I'm super excited to be here at the Georgia Library Media Association's Summer Institute 2018! The first day has been full of excitement as I was honored as the recipient of the GLMA Intellectual Freedom of Information Award. What an honor. I received this award for the work I've done this year in educating my literacy committee and administration on the best practices concerning leveling and labeling of books within a library media program. Being nominated by Deana Cicero and then being selected as the recipient of the award has been such a blessing to me. And this award is heavy! It is a beautiful glass sculpture (a flame...very appropriate I think) and I think I just might have to display it on my mantel at home for a bit.
My morning was filled with a little volunteering, as I worked alongside Wendy Smith (pictured below) at the registration table. I laughed a lot with Wendy...she is so much fun! I really love working check-in because I get to meet so many smiling faces! Repeat attendees are filled with excitement as they approach the table and I also love the nervous anticipation of those who are first-timers. Volunteering at your favorite conference is so satisfying and such a great way to make new friends and grow your PLN.
After a lively lunch, I headed into my first presentation of the conference. Of course I chose to share my favorite tech tool (can you guess?) with a packed room! I'm so thankful to my tribe who took photos during the session and shared their learning on Twitter! I feel like the time just flew by and I hope that everyone walked away with a new tool in their toolbox.
After such a busy morning, I attended a session with Karen Burton Garner from Grayson on utilizing tech centers in media center. Karen had a few technology issues, but like any media specialist, handled it with grace and charm. We laughed a bit and with a little help from her friends, Karen was up and running in no time! Can you just imagine how much help someone gets in a room full of librarians?! It is awesome to watch. Later in the day, Keith Osburn and Shauntice Wheeler of the GaDOE shared some information about how our Georgia media specialists will be evaluated in the coming year. We aren't implementing SLEI just yet in our State, but we are well on our way to getting more attention in terms of a quality, meaningful, and reflective evaluation....which we deserve, right?!
The evening of the first full day of the conference was spent at dinner with friends and then getting a good night's sleep in my luxurious room. The Crowne Plaza at Peachtree City has undergone some beautiful refurbishments and I was fortunate enough to get a room with a king bed overlooking the beautiful lake. With the spa packages left in my room and the sound of a splashing fountain outside my window, I slept like a baby! It was a lovely respite during a busy conference. Just look at the sunrise on Tuesday morning from my room window!
The next morning was a bit emotional for me as I headed into my second and last presentation of the conference. My presentation was titled "Leaping from High School to Elementary" and I planned to share my successes (to give other ES folks a chance to get some ideas) and also to share my failures. Now anyone who really knows me knows that I just don't like to talk about failing. I'm pretty much a glass-half-full kinda girl! But my dear friend and colleague, GeAnne Bolhuis told me that my story had value and that it was important for me to share my year in an honest and open way. Of course, she was right. I had a small group of attendees for this early 8:30am session, but it was the perfect group. I had three people come up to me afterward and tell me they were in similar situations in their schools and that hearing my struggles (with the push for lexiled libraries, leveled book labeling, etc.) helped them reflect on their own. One sweet colleague even shared this tweet....
This was such a rewarding experience. Telling our story isn't always easy. It isn't always pretty. And feedback like Martha's means so much to me. That morning session was very cathartic! I now feel that I can walk away from The Happy Library with a full heart and a sense of completion. Someone in the session asked me...."so what's next for The Happy Librarian?" I had to respond...."I don't know, but I'm excited to find out!" So folks, you will just have to stay tuned as they say to find out. I'm sure I'll post a little something here and certainly on Twitter once I know where I'm landing in the coming months. And if you aren't following Martha on Twitter, do so! She is one of the founders of our #GaLibChat on Twitter and is an up-and-coming in Georgia's library world! She was also just recognized at the conference as the 2018 Coastal GA Library Media Specialist of the Year, so congrats to her on that accomplishment!
I attended many great sessions at this conference, but one that I must give a little shout-out to is the STEAMing up your Library! presentation by Kathy Schmidt. Kathy is a dynamic librarian who has been on the forefront of the maker movement in our libraries. She is a member of ISTE and you will find her at almost every big conference related to technology, so if you ever get the chance to hear her share her ideas, do it! She's also on Twitter so follow her HERE! Kathy shared her experiences in a STEAM certified middle school, Coleman Middle School in Gwinnett County...the first middle school to receive the designation in the State. I got lots of ideas from Kathy and she is just FUN to listen to and laugh with!
There is so much more I could share about this wonderful conference that supports our profession, but I feel that it would be lost on readers. Sometimes you just have to be there. So, if you were there, thanks. If you weren't, then ask yourself why not. Any school librarian deserves a conference like this one. There is no other conference in our State that directly supports, encourages, and advocates for the work of the school library media specialist like this one. And at 180 attendees this year, we are growing! Learn more about GLMA and the Summer Institute HERE. I hope you will consider taking two days out of your summer next year to attend. And bring your tribe with you!
As I begin to think about what types of things will be placed in our new makerspace area, I have really started paying attention to what other media specialists have done with making. My first source of inspiration tends to be Pinterest, but eventually I seek out those who are close to me. The librarians that I work with in my local RESA are usually the BEST source of great ideas!
Several of those librarians have used origami in their own makerspaces with success, so I thought I would give it a try. As I prepared stations for my "maker week" lesson of the month, I included a winter animals book mark activity. I used only materials I already had on-hand so there was no cost involved.
The origami station was set up with a sign, directions, materials, and also a laptop. I created a Padlet where students could see the real-life image of the animals to choose from. I have shared my Padlet below, so feel free to use it for your own makerspace. I also linked to four YouTube tutorial videos on how to make the book mark for each animal type. The fact that I was limited to only one computer meant that students at the center all had to work on the same creation. This was only a problem in one class. All of the others came to a quick consensus and were fine creating the same animal.
I took a minute to get the kids at this station started because they had to begin with a "perfect square" piece of paper. I didn't have origami squares, so I taught them how to fold and cut the existing paper in order to get the square. This step is included in the videos, but it worked best with me helping them get started. After that, it was all smooth sailing! The snowy owl and polar bear involved a lot of small piece cutting, so it was harder for the 3rd graders, but 5th graders had no issue with these. The snowshoe hare was by far the simplest to make and really was the perfect choice for the 3rd graders. The 4th graders gravitated toward polar bear making and although challenging, they were able to do it!
I think the kids were inspired by this activity! They were amazed that they could create such cute creatures and then when they saw that they could be used as corner book marks, they were beside themselves! They wanted to pose for pictures and everything! I even had one student ask to make a spin-off UNICORN and I said, of course!
I do believe that more origami is in our future. I think students in other centers (like coding and puzzle solving) were wishing they had chosen origami! It was fun, required them to follow directions and work together, and they walked away with a little inspiration to keep reading.
The snow and ice have hit Georgia! Who would have thought that I would have missed almost the entire month due to weather-related school cancellations?! Teachers returned last Friday for an icy work day and I took full advantage. I must admit that it was hard to get going after being lazy at home all week and realizing that it was Friday and I was about to have another two lazy days, but I eventually moved into action.
You might remember my post about a space that I have reclaimed in our library for a future makerspace. If not, take a minute to jump over and read that post HERE first. I begged for some help from my assistant principal and art teacher (two of only four males in my building) to assist with moving the outdated curriculum materials that were stored here. These materials were picked over by our teachers several times and now it was time to haul them outta there!
Clearing these materials was the biggest part of clearing out the room for our makerspace and it only took about an hour and two truck loads! Wow! Look at how awesome those empty shelves are! I can just imagine all sorts of makerspace goodies to fill them with.
The other component that needed addressing was the old technology stuff. A lot of the surplus technology equipment had been moved by our former technology support person. I had to get our new guy up to speed, but as soon as I did, he swiftly got to work and had it all cleared out! I was so impressed and thanked him profusely. He told me that he didn't like clutter and was happy to help. I think I've met my match in terms of throwing out old stuff....he likes to do the same thing!
Finally, I would be remiss in leaving out the efforts on my wonderful custodian. Mr. Raymond is truly a gem. He helps me in so many ways and keeps our library looking clean and tidy. When I wasn't looking, he came in and took the time to scrape all of the old clothespins that were hot glued to the walls off and hauled off two boxes of remaining trash! WOW! What a blessing.
So, I now have a blank slate. An empty canvas. I plan to remove some of the shelving (the section that is blocking the steps up to the stage floor) and I plan to cut some of the shelving down to a lower height. I've debated about requesting that the big shelving unit (the one pictured above) be moved to the back of the room so that I could put a dry erase board up here at the front, but I'm uncertain about that for now. These shelves are all bolted down to the walls, so they are sturdy and secure.
I'm excited to see the room progressing to this point. I'd like to request permission to PAINT, but am sure this might be a road block. I think I may just get in there, clean really well, hang up some bright decor, and start USING the room! I'm afraid if I let it sit too long with no use, it might be claimed by someone else!
I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions for this space. Or, please share a comment or two about your makerspace area in your library. I hope to feature this transformation in a future conference presentation, so all ideas are welcome and I'll be sure to give credit where credit is due. Until next time...
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones! November just seems like it has flown by and as you noticed, I didn't do any blogging during our week off from school. My family took a trip to South Carolina (hope to share a little something from that trip in the future) and I just chose to spend the week enjoying my time away from school. But now that I'm back in the swing, I just keep thinking to myself, "why is it that I only seem to stay one step ahead?"
Do you ever have that feeling? The feeling that no matter how much planning you do, how much you organize, or how hard you work that it just seems you are barely staying afloat?
I have several projects I've started and few I've completed. Sad but true. Just keepin' it real, folks. I started my labeling for genrefication of my fiction section and I've only made it to the Cs. Seriously. I cleared out a massive storage room and got it almost completely done when I was told that it wouldn't be my space to use....yep, they are claiming it for a data room. Bummer. I started designing a plan to remove the circulation desk and transform the space into a more user-friendly area for students, but alas, plans have stalled. No money for the new seating I want.
Now lest I have you thinking you've stumbled on the Un-Happy Library website....I'm not down in the dumps about any of this. I realize I'm only one step ahead, but that is saying something! I am still happy to be where I am, doing what I love, and dreaming of how to make my little library the happiest it can be. And it so happens, one of the spaces that is connected to our library that was being used for storage of technology and outdated curriculum has been returned to me for our future STEM (a.k.a. maker) space! That's right....I get to clean out another area, but this time it will stay a part of our library.
With the long intro done, I want to show you what I'm working with!
Here is the doorway that connects to our library....you can see my board and my yellow story time chair off in the distance. When you enter this room, you can see there is some sturdy metal shelving against the walls. Some of the shelving will stay, but the one section you are looking at here will be moved. It might be hard to tell, but this room has an elevated floor section and that shelf is sitting in the path of the stairs. Look at all of that old guided reading stuff! Whew! I asked teachers to come and claim anything they wanted, so what you are seeing is AFTER the massive clean out by our staff....unreal. These paperback books will be donated to our school store or may be recycled. My plan here is to clear the wall and the pathway so that it is safe for students. I would also like to paint....more on that later.
In this picture, you see a direct view from the actual doorway of the library. The fact that there is an outside doorway and window is wonderful because it gives this dark space some light! And again, you can see how much metal shelving there is. I will keep the sections bolted to the wall on the left of this picture. I have discussed with my assistant principal and custodian the idea of keeping the other section (that is sitting up against the stage wall) but cutting it down with metal cutters. It would provide some valuable storage for STEM supplies, but by cutting it down lower, it would open up a line of sight for me and wouldn't block the natural light from the windows to the other side of the room. We will see if this happens. It might not work.
There is more of the old curriculum items to weed, plus the big blue box is just "junk" that needs to be hauled out. The old Eagle banner in the back needs to be removed and all of those clothespins need to be scraped off the wall. Can you imagine what a fresh coat of paint would do?!?
These two pictures are just spanning right from the view in Photo B and give a great view of the current space. This area is primarily an elevated stage and you can barely see the steps up on the right side in Photo C. The steps are wide and flat which is nice for little feet.
A lot of the technology equipment is being moved into the technology office. That will clear off that shelving unit in the back (which will probably stay in the space). The boxes of books in the foreground of these photos are books that were sorted by our upper grade level teachers and are now gone. They were moved into a book room in another location of the school.
I'm not sure about all of the heavy brown library furniture back here. I really want something lighter and more flexible, but I won't move it out just yet. I have to be sure I can replace it with something first. But I do want to be sure to open up as much floor space as possible for activities on the floor.
This is just another view of the stage area and step area. I'm still debating about that white wire shelf over there on the right....ideas?
And finally, a view from the stage itself. The room is actually quite spacious, but it looks so small due to all the tall shelves packed with materials. I have big dreams for this space....fresh paint, new STEM supplies, flexible seating.....
I plan to share this transformation with you all. One step at a time. And trust me, I'll only be one step ahead.
Who to follow: