I am energized by the start of our orientations in the Barrow Media Center. Today, all of 5th grade and a 1st grade class came for orientation. This year we’ve embraced the theme “Make It Happen….@ Your Library!” This theme has many meanings for our program. The most obvious is that this year will be our first year without a media paraprofessional. I’m calling on all members of our library (teachers, students, families, community) to come together to make our space work this year with less paid help.
“Make It Happen” also means that our space is going to be a space for creating. This year, many collaborative lessons and projects will happen in our space and a main goal will be to facilitate students in creating their own projects. Even though students will be creating within these lessons, I also want them to have choices and opportunities for creating on their own. On the bulletin board, I’ve listed things such as design a bookmark, compose a library theme song, teach someone your technology expertise, film a book trailer, and more. In orientation, I’m openly inviting students to think about which of these ideas speaks to them and what other ideas they might have in their own minds and to make those happen somehow this year.
Our orientation itself is much more interactive this year. Rather than talk about all of the rules and expectations, we’ve been reading Ish by Peter Reynolds and Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. I’ve asked students to think about what they can take away from these stories to help us this year. They have named things such as be creative, dream, pretend, encourage, imagine, and more. I can’t think of better words to fill our library space this year!
After connecting those thoughts to the theme of “Make It Happen”, we do go over a few details about the library that students need to know. Then in grades 2-5, students participate in a scavenger hunt to locate several parts of the library as well as do many of the things they will do this year on their own like looking up a book in Destiny. I also have students name themselves as experts or consultants in a variety of areas:
- Who knows how to use Destiny Quest?
- Who knows how to check themselves out?
- Who knows how to use a shelf marker?
- Who knows how to put a book on hold?
- Who can locate a book on the shelf after finding it in Destiny?
As students identify themselves as experts, students who are unsure about these questions can write down their names and call on them for help when checkout time comes. Since one of my goals is to build the participatory culture of our library, I’m immediately calling on the students to start participating rather than looking to me for all of the help.
In the lower grades, we do the scavenger hunt together, but the basic idea is still the same: setup the theme of the year and let students start to take ownership.
This was such a freeing process. I felt like I could give more quality attention to some of the students while I knew that other students were taking care of other students with questions in the class. I can’t wait to see how this different orientation style supports what we will do this year. I feel like we’re off to a great start.