Once again, I have reserved a portion of our library budget for complete student control. I have done this over the past three years and have come to value it so much that I plan to continue and improve upon the process. So far, this year is proving to be one of the most interesting so far. In the past, I’ve worked with groups of students as large as 40 and as small as 12. This year, we have 27 students in grades 3-5 who have agreed to participate in this process.
This year, I created a Google form asking about some reading interests and gauging student interest in being a part of the book budget group. I emailed the form to all students in the school. In general, our 3rd-5th graders are the main students who check their email, so those were the students who responded. Out of about 60 responses, I had about 40 students who were interested in being in the group. I went through the list and tried to select a mix of boys, girls, grade levels, classrooms, backgrounds, and reading interests. This narrowed the list to the 27 students.
I then got permission from the students’ teachers to allow them to be in the group. Next, I blocked out some times on the library calendar. Here’s the rough outline of what I did/planned to do:
- 1/25: Initial meeting with the whole group to lay the foundation of our work and edit the Google form that I started. We also claimed which grade levels we would each survey. This was done at the very beginning of the day when students would have been doing their morning meeting in the classroom.
- 1/28-2/1: As soon as students arrived at school, they got their netbooks out and pulled up our Google form. Then, they surveyed their own class as well as one other grade level that they had chosen.
- 2/1: After surveying is done, email the results to all of the students so that they can begin looking at patterns.
- 2/4, 2/8, & 2/11: Students will meet in the library during their lunch. We will narrow down the survey results and determine which specific books and categories of books we want to focus on. Then, students will begin creating lists of books with our favorite vendors including: Bound to Stay Bound, Capstone Press, and Follett
- 2/12: Finalize the lists and order the books.
- While we wait on the books to arrive, some students might choose to work on some marketing strategies, but I won’t do this with every student in the group.
- When the books arrive, schedule a meeting to unpack, stamp the books, and double check the packing slips.
- Advertise the books on BTV and put them into circulation.
At our initial meeting, students did a great job adding to the form I had already started. In the form, I asked about specific series of books, genres of books, and created a space for students to list specific books. This was all based on what students are constantly asking for in the library so there were things like: The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, World Records, Rainbow Fairies, Ninjago, Lego, Princesses, etc. The students decided to add a question about grade level and gender so that we could balance how many boys, girls, and students from different grade levels we surveyed. They also added their own series and genres that I completely missed. This is what I love about this participatory aspect. It’s impossible for one person to know the reading needs of the entire school. It has to be a collaborative effort.
During the week of 1/28-2/1, students surveyed as many students as possible. I was amazed that by the end of the week they had surveyed over 400 students, which is almost every student in the school! This is highest amount of students we have ever been able to survey in this project. Almost every day, I emailed the students an update on how many students in each grade level we had surveyed. This helped them focus their time. I was also amazed by the decision making of many of the students. They were careful not to disturb a classroom if the teacher had already started a morning meeting or a lesson. They also came to the library to ask me my thoughts about where they might go next. In the library, I watched the number of surveys steadily climb in the spreadsheet that Google Forms automatically creates.
On 2/1, I emailed the students the final results so that they can hopefully look over it before we begin the messy process of making decisions this week. I’ll do another post about the decision making process and book ordering, but for now here’s what we have to work with. How would YOU narrow this down?
|Graphic Novels (comics)||170||40%|
|Myths & Legends||159||38%|
|Diary of a Wimpy Kid||211||51%|
|Guinness World Records||168||40%|
|Mo Willems books||90||22%|
|Magic Tree House||191||46%|
|Junie B. Jones||168||40%|