I’ve always wanted to try something different for library orientation rather than have the students sit on the carpet for 30-45 minutes while I talk on and on about how to use the library, check out books, and take care of books. This year, especially, I knew that students would be eager to explore their new library space rather than sit and stare at it from a distance. So….I made a plan for 2nd-5th grade and a plan for K-1.
For K-1, we stayed as a whole group and watched a few of the videos together. I may try letting 1st grade scan one of the QR codes just for practice, but I felt like whole group with a story was still the way to go for the younger students. We read the book Sky Color by Peter Reynolds to make connections to the library being a place to be creative and think outside the box.
For 2-5, I made a list of the major topics that I wanted students to think about when learning about the spaces in the library and the basic functions such as checking out a book. From there, I made a video for each of those topics using an iPad and uploaded it to Youtube.
I took each link and generated a QR code. I put each QR code on its own piece of paper with some brief instructions. For example, the check out QR code said to scan the code and go to the circulation desk before watching. On our iPad cart, I downloaded a QR reader and tested all of my codes to make sure they worked.
During orientation, I put out the QR codes that I felt like that grade level needed the most. Lower grades had fewer QR codes to scan while the upper grades had them all. For some classes I made a table of codes that were the “must scan” codes and then a table of codes for “if you have time”. We started our time on the carpet in order to do a welcome, refresh using iPads safely, and to demo scanning a QR code. Next students got an iPad and plugged in some headphones from the library (or their own) and began scanning codes. I would love to say that it was perfectly smooth, but of course students had trouble adjusting sound, some headphones weren’t plugged in all the way, and some headphones weren’t working. However, once the glitches smoothed out, it was amazing to see students productively wandering around the library with iPads doing a self-guided tour just as they would do in a museum. In the process, they walked the entire library, tried out multiple places to sit, found out about technology they would use throughout the year, and saw books that they wanted to checkout. I felt like even though they heard the same information each student gained something different out of the orientation.
At the close, we came back together to share some things that they learned about our library. I wish that we had more time for this reflection because it gave me so many insights into what students valued in the library and what they were still wondering about. At checkout, I saw students doing some of the exact same things that I did in the video. I also saw students looking for books that they saw on shelves in the videos. Overall, students got a lot of the same information, but this was much more engaging, involved movement, and gave students the option to watch something again if they didn’t understand. We’ll see how this translates into library use during the year, but I felt much better about how this new take on orientation went.
Today was exciting. For the first time, I saw 2 years of planning a library space begin springing into action. I saw how much the students are going to move this furniture around to meet their needs. I saw how visible the books were on the shelves, which leads me to think we’ll have even more circulations this year. This was only day one of classes. I can’t wait to see how the space grows, evolves, and becomes useful to the students and the kinds of learning they will take on for years to come.