Library Orientation: Starting the Year with Failure

QR orientation (6)

Last year, I decided to try something new for my library orientation.  Rather than have students sit and listen to me go on and on about how the library works, I let them explore the library with QR codes.  I loved this change so much that I decided to try this again this year and add some new twists.

First, I thought about all of the main questions that pop up during the year about using the library and made a list.  Then, I took this list and tried to make videos that were concise and addressed one task rather than weaving in multiple topics into one video.  This included topics such as how to search in Destiny, how to check out with and without a student id, how to check in, how to use a shelf marker, how to place a hold, and where supplies are located.  I also had some pieces of the library that I wanted students to know about such as areas where participatory opportunities would be displayed and what was new in our makerspace.

I took each video, improved the sound quality in iMovie, and uploaded to Youtube.  Using Kaywa QR Code generator, I made a QR code to each video, labeled it, printed it, and put it in a sleeve to hang in the library.

When 2nd-5th grade came to the library, they entered to a rolling slideshow of our 4 library goals.





I wanted our first focus to be what we hope our library is about this year.  The procedures are important because they affect the flow of the year, but the goals are what drive us every day.

After talking about the 4 goals, I showed students how the orientation would work.  Each student would have an iPad with headphones.  Using the Layar app, students would scan each QR code and tap on the video to begin listening.  There were 4 videos that I wanted every student to review:  how to check out, how to check in, how to use Destiny, and a tour of the library sections.  I placed these 4 codes on 4 tables so that students could easily keep track of which videos they needed to watch first.  Following the 4 videos, students could scan a QR code on the project board that took them to a playlist so that they could choose any of the other videos to watch.

QR orientation (5)QR orientation (8)Once students scanned a video, I encouraged them to carry their iPad and go to that section of the library so that they could physically see the things that I was talking about in the video.  Once again, this was a wonderful experience because it allowed students to move, replay videos if needed, and actually see the library spaces rather than sit and listen.

QR orientation (4) QR orientation (2)

This worked beautifully some of the time, but here’s where the failure comes in.  On the 2nd week of school, our district implemented a new filter.  Filters can be wonderful things to protect our students, but anytime something new is implemented the bugs have to be worked out.  On day 1, every Youtube video was blocked on the iPads.  As soon as students started scanning, they got the no access screen.  Luckily, I could still access Youtube on my own computer so I decided we could just watch some of the videos on the projector.  Then, the internet speed became so slow that no videos would work.  Finally, we just got in a line and did an old-fashioned tour around the library.  The coolness of the QR codes was gone, but we still accomplished learning about the library.

While this experience was very frustrating, it allowed me to model what it means to not give up, to persevere through failures, and to expect that great things will happen even when things don’t work.  Rather than bottle all of my thinking in my head, I began to share it with the kids.  I said things like, “This was an epic failure, so let me back up and rethink this” and “Why don’t we try…”.  In future lessons, I built this conversation into our mini-lesson.  I prepped the kids by sharing the failures we had already encountered and how we worked through them together.  What I started to see was kids who were being more patient and were trying different strategies when the internet was slow or a code didn’t scan rather than kids who were giving up or kids who were yelling out about something not working and asking for an adult’s help.  I was reminded of the importance of sharing that it’s ok to fail as long as you use that failure to learn what you might do differently.

QR orientation (3)

In Kindergarten and 1st grade, we used the book Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall.  I chose this book because Dawson is a “maker”.  I felt like he embodied what I hoped that all of us would consider ourselves across the course of the year.  During our reading of this book, we paused to notice how Dawson never gave up.  We pointed out his epic failures along the way and how he took those failures, backed up, and tried something new.  He never lost his cool.  Instead, he took a different path or split a huge invention into 3 smaller ones.  As we made these noticings, we made connections to our own learning and the goals that we had for this year in the library.

QR orientation (1)

Following our read aloud and/or QR code tour, we used Kahoot to review a few of the library procedures.  I chose Kahoot for a few reasons.  One was to put it in front of teachers at the very beginning of the year as an engaging tool to use with students to check for understanding.  Several teachers were eager to try it in their classrooms.  Another reason was to make the really boring topic of library procedures fun and get us all on the same page.  It worked.  Even another reason was to throw a tool at students that was new to just about all of them and once again practice our acceptance of failure.  Several students couldn’t login.  Others had games that didn’t load as fast as other i Pads.  Still others got kicked out in the middle of the game and had to log back in.  Did any of these failures stop of us from learning? No.  We used each and every barrier, glitch, and student error as a learning tool for how we will work together this year.

Now that our orientations are over. We are ready for a year of miraculous projects.  The QR codes are now hanging all over the library for students to continue to reference throughout the year as they forget how to check out or place a hold.  The videos are also being sent to all of the library volunteers so that they can also review the different ways the library works before assisting students and shelving books.

I’m sure I will make even more changes to next year’s orientation, but I love how this one set the stage for our year.



13 thoughts on “Library Orientation: Starting the Year with Failure

  1. pgalland says:

    …and were you able to get your YouTube videos unblocked? Hard to believe the techs still are able to have some much control over instruction via the mighty filter.

    • plemmonsa says:

      Yes. Things were resolved by the next lesson as far as the blocking, but the internet was still super slow. Things are working great now.

  2. Your teaching style is an umbrella that has covered not only useful research & check-out skills, but the more valuable life skills of problem solving and creative thought! Keep on keep in’ on, Mr. Plemmons.

  3. Jamie Riley says:

    Thanks so much for posting your videos and your orientation plans. I loved the ideas and will borrow them! For now I’m obsessing over the makerspace area and in particular, the rolling makerspace cart. Could you give me any information about where you purchased it? I’d be so appreciative! Thanks again for sharing your journey and hope you have a great school year!

  4. Terry Kahn says:

    I love this idea! I may use it next year since the school year has already started. We can not use You Tune on our iPads so I would need to make these using a different way for them to view. Any suggestions?

    • plemmonsa says:

      Do you have access to any video uploading sites? schooltube? teachertube? vimeo? You can also put a video in Google drive and share the link to it. I wonder if one of those options would help.

  5. Andy! I tried to create an Augmented Reality orientation with Aurasma only to find that the app rating was changed to 17+ (Which was a mistake btw and now the app is back to normal rating.) I tried to redo with QR codes and I had the same problem but only because my kids kept taking my QR codes or scanning the wrong ones. Too funny. Gotta love the first week of school! (P.s. I uploaded my videos to Dropbox so the videos wouldn’t get blocked. That worked well, but someone checked out my #1 example with the first QR code on it!)

    • plemmonsa says:

      I need to play around with Aurasma some more. Layar has worked well for us but I do like the way Aurasma looks much better than Layar. Best wishes for the new school year!

      • Aurasma looks totally awesome! I was showing it off to everyone as I was making the orientation and then I said, “Hmm.. I better make sure this works on student iPads.” That’s when I found out that it was rated 17+. At least they fixed it now! You can make your own videos to play when kids scan whatever you use as your “Aura.” It is a great app! Happy school year to you too!

  6. Thank you Andy for this amazing post and the inspiration for me to create my own library goal and have a video centered first library visit! You are a great colleague to have! 😀

  7. […] activities that I smashed together to create my new beginning of the year Scavenger Hunt came from Andy Plemmons’ blog and The Techie Teacher.   If you don’t follow these guys, you need to start!  Their blogs […]

  8. Fiona says:

    Here in my state in Australia, YouTube, blogs and heaps of other sites are blocked to students by the department of education. I mostly only use the IWB for this reason, and have to get creative about how I teach technology and research skills 😉 Very frustrating. Thank goodness I can access those sites on my account.

    • plemmonsa says:

      It’s so frustrating when you have so many barriers in your way. I’ve started uploading a lot of my videos to Google Drive if I want them to be viewed by students. Our students can view some Youtube but not always.

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