We are a little late this year, but our student book budget group has finally started. Each year, I reserve a portion of our library funding and allow students to make the decisions about how that money is spent. This is more than just having a wish list for students to contribute to. This is giving them complete control in every part of the decision making process.
Each year, the groups are chosen in different ways. This year, I made a video to show to our 4th and 5th graders to explain the project.
Then, I created a Google form that was shared with all of our 4th and 5th graders to tell why they would want to be in the student book budget group.
Aziz Coleman, 4th grade teacher, really wanted his ELT group of 12 fourth graders to be a part of the project, so all of them filled out the form along with about 30 other students. After reading through the responses, it really seemed like everyone who signed up was genuinely interested in being in the project, so I took them all!
I created a schedule for our meetings along with a timeline of where we are going. Over the years, I’ve fine tuned the steps that we go through, but student voice and student choice always stays at the center of what we do.
During our 1st two days together, we have focused on creating our survey about reading interests. I made a contact group with all of the students in my gmail. That makes it easy for me to invite the entire group as collaborators on docs that we use. I made 2 docs. One was a brainstorm doc for us to brainstorm possible things to ask about on the survey. I thought it would be easier to brainstorm on a doc rather than try to do it all on the Google form.
It was amazing to see so many students working together toward one common cause.
After some brainstorming started, I gave them editing rights to our 2nd doc which was our Google form survey. We made a copy of last year’s form, and then started using our brainstorming list to make changes.
This was the 1st time I’ve tried collaborating on the Google form. Usually we just put it up on the board and work together whole group. I liked seeing every student involved at once, but it was definitely messy.
I checked in with students periodically and gave them some focus. At times, we broke the tasks up into groups. For example, one group worked on fine tuning the brainstorm list. Another group added questions to the survey. Another group looked carefully at the checklist on the survey to see what needed to be added or changed.
Students worked during their recess, extended learning time, and even left to get lunch and come back. They were excited and very focused. There were a few students who started getting off task, so I offered that they might want to go back to recess if they felt like they had contributed their part for the day. This was totally in their hands, and some of them took me up on the offer.
We are now in the survey process. We want to survey students at every grade level. We will email the survey to our 3rd-5th graders since they all have a computer and we will use iPads to survey the lower grades.
Since our meeting time is during a prime lunch time, we have been taking over the lunchroom with iPads to survey students.
Once we have results from the survey we will set goals based on those results and start meeting with our vendors such as Capstone and Avid Bookshop.