Student Book Budgets and Real World Connections: Empowering Student Voice

Day 2 Unpacking (5)

We have continued to unpack our student book budget purchases this weeks thanks to generous funding from James Patterson. Each year, there are stories that rise to the surface about students who take a stand for other student requests, students who find a certain talent within the many pieces of book budgets, and students who suddenly find a real world connection through our project.

Day 2 Unpacking (1)

This year as we unpacked, I was taking pictures and videos as I always do. I just happened to be near Ajacea, 5th grader, when she was setting up displays of books for people to see. She would set up some books and then take them down because she didn’t like the way they looked. Then, she suddenly decided to start putting the books on the little ledge in the wall of windows that faces the hallway. She talked out loud about how the books should face out so that people would see them as they walked down the hallway. I snapped a few pictures of her inside the library and also through the windows and shared those on social media.

Immediately, I got a tweet back from Amy Cox at Capstone Press, one of the main companies we order from for our book budget project. Her comment started a chain of events.

I loved that Amy used the word “marketing” when she tweeted back to us because it was a real-world connection to an actual career. Whether Ajacea knew what she was doing was called marketing or not, it was intuitive for her, and we were able to connect an interest she had to an actual career path that she might not have ever considered.

By the end of the day, I observed multiple students passing by Ajacea’s windows and stopping to look at the books. They were pointing, talking, and asking their teacher if they could come to the library. Most of the books were checked out from the windows in just about an hour. When I shared this, once again Amy from Capstone responded.

Ajacea stopped by at the end of the day and I told her that Capstone was impressed with her work and wanted her to be a marketing intern.  She was beaming and said they should call her. I added this conversation exchange to my post about unpacking our books, and once again Amy Cox connected with us.

I had no idea what the email would contain, but I knew it would be something special and that Ajacea would love it. Right before Ajacea arrived to unpack and display more books, the email arrived. It contained an official “honorary marketing intern” certificate as well as a personalized tour of Capstone to see just what a marketing intern would do and where she would go.

Before I presented Ajacea with the award, I was showing her places in the library where students had been displaying books while she was gone. Some of the books had been placed on tables in the center of the library. She immediately started analyzing the situation and decided that the tables were just not going to work.  “People need to use those tables,” she said. I explained that the rest of the day’s classes were working in different parts of the library. Her response, “Well what about tomorrow?” She was right of course. The next day I needed all of the tables, so she started moving some of the books to new places.

Day 2 Unpacking (15) Day 2 Unpacking (14)

Before our time ran out, I asked Ajacea to come over to the tables to see something awesome. I told her about all of the response from Capstone and that they sent her some things to see.  I presented her with her award and let her know that the Capstone team put together an official tour of the Capstone offices in the event that she became an intern with them. “They seriously did that for me?” was her response. We put the tour up on the big screen and sat together and chatted about what we saw.

Ajacea saw what it would look like if she walked in the front door of Capstone. She also got to see her desk, which she was very happy with. It was so big a spacious.

The presentation continued on with explanations of the types of jobs she would do as a marketing intern such as work on the Capstone catalog and analyze the data of PebbleGo users. She saw meeting rooms and offices of the CEO and other employees. When she saw the CEO office, she said, “I would not want to go in there. It’s scary.” We had a great conversation about what it’s like to go into the office of your boss and the nervous feelings you get even when it’s usually for something that you did that’s awesome.

Day 2 Unpacking (12) Day 2 Unpacking (13)

As we ended our time, we talked about what she was thinking about doing when she grew up. She told me how she wants to be a designer, any kind of designer. She loved the bookshelves on the wall at Capstone and said maybe she wanted to design spaces like that. She talked about clothes and the possibility of designing fashion. Her wheels were turning and it was so much fun to see and learn a student story that I had not heard before. It reminded of me of how much I was I had more time where I got to hear individual students stories and what I need to do to make sure I have more time to do that.

Capstone is filled with amazing individuals, and I can’t thank them enough for taking time out of their day to put this together for one student. You can tell that they are a company that is constantly reminding themselves about why they do the work that they are doing.

 

 

 

Student Book Budgets 2015-16: The Final Lists

 

narrowing (7)

Since early November, a group of 30 students has been hard at work spending a student book budget.  This year’s budget was funded through a generous grant from James Patterson.  Students created a survey in Google forms, surveyed the school, analyzed the results, set goals, met with vendors, and created consideration lists.

narrowing (8)

You can read more about their work in these posts:

Getting started

Meeting with Capstone

Meeting with Gumdrop

Meeting with Avid

narrowing (5)

Over the past week, students have worked to narrow those consideration lists down until they had books that met our goals and were within our budget.  There were many tough decisions as usual.  Students had to consider how many of each kind of book to order.  Should we order more superhero books than anything else?  Should we order copies of books that we already have in the collection?  Should we include books that we knew students would like but didn’t actually meet one of the goals we set in the beginning?  Should we spend more money with a certain vendor in order to earn additional free books?  As usual, I saw students go to bat for a book because of something they heard other students ask for.  For example, there was a Frozen drawing book with Gumdrop Books.  One of the 5th grade boys said, “I don’t personally like Frozen, but I know a lot of students who do.  I think we should order another copy of this book so that more students can enjoy it.”  I’m always amazed by the conversations that surface during this project.

narrowing (2)

After cutting books from the list, I sent the student choices to Avid Bookshop, Capstone, and Gumdrop books to give us final quotes.  They each emailed me a final list for students to see.  Students met for one final time before the holidays to give a stamp of approval to the final lists.  There were a few minor changes to the lists in the end.  We added an additional Wimpy Kid book and some additional books in series.

Now, all of the lists have been sent to the vendors.  We met our goal of finishing before the holidays and students spent the entire $5,000 James Patterson Grant and managed to stretch that budget to an additional $750 thanks to Capstone Rewards.  Now we wait.  The books should arrive in January.  At that time, we’ll meet again to unpack the books, market them to the school, and enjoy a first look and checkout before the rest of the school.

Capstone List

Gumdrop List

Avid List

Great work student book budget team!

Students and Vendors: A Student Book Budget Project with Capstone Press

Jim Boon Capstone (18)

We just finished week 2 of student book budgets.  During this week, students have analyzed the data from over 300 students who answered our reading interest survey.  They used the summary of results in Google forms and also printed out a list of specific books that students requested.  They used both of these tools to create a list of goals for purchasing as well as a list of things to consider while selecting books.

This year we will focus primarily on comics/graphic novels, sports, animals, scary stories, games, and how to do things. We will also focus some on music and humor/jokes.

Goal-setting based on our survey data

We haven’t specifically decided how to split up our $5,000 James Patterson grant, but the discussion has started.  It seems like more money is going to go to our top 3 goals and the remaining money will be split to the other goals.  However, that is still being decided.

Once our goals were established, I started sending out invites to vendors to come and meet with students.  We have 3 vendors we will be working with this year: Capstone Press, Gumdrop, and Avid Bookshop (our local independent bookstore).

Jim Boon Capstone (44) Jim Boon Capstone (36)

This week, students met with Jim Boon of Capstone Press.  Jim and Capstone have been longtime supporters of this project.  Jim ships in catalogs ahead of time so that each student gets a catalog.

Jim Boon Capstone (41)

He also brings in a selection of books and divides them into fiction and nonfiction.  Most of these books meet the needs of our goals, but there’s of course a few tossed in just for fun for students to look at.  Jim usually brings in some fun posters and things for the students as well, which makes them feel very special.  This year, students are adding books to our Capstone consideration list that match our goals, but students are also able to pick one book of their personal choice to add to the library.  These books will get a special sticker with each student’s name designating who chose the book for the library.

Each grade level group came in for 30 minutes.  Jim met with them at a table first to go over things like Capstone rewards, how to use the catalog, and how to scan books from the catalog straight into a consideration list.

I love how Jim talks directly to the students instead of me.  They are the customers for this project, and he is meeting their needs and expectations.

After orienting at the tables, students start looking at all of the books that Jim brought in as well as using their catalogs to locate the books.

When students find books in the catalog that are for consideration, they fold down the corners of the pages until they can come to the computer to scan the books into our list.

Once we scan the barcode in the Capstone catalog, that entire series is added to our list.  We then take a look to see which of the books on the list we already own.  Students decide if they think we need an extra copy or if we should uncheck books we already own.  Then, we save the cart.

After one pass through the books and catalogs, our students have added 116 titles to our Capstone consideration list for a total of $2,267 .

This number will of course grow and will be added to our other 2 vendors.  Then, we’ll work to narrow our lists to meet our goals and our budget.

As always, thanks to Capstone, Jim Boon, Amy Cox, and Eric Fitzgerald for their support with this project each year. I can’t wait for the many conversations we will have about these books in the coming weeks.

Empowering Student Voice through our Makerspace

3empower

 

At our “Meet the Teacher” night back in August, several students raced into the library to tell me about project ideas that they dreamed up over the summer.  As soon as I heard their enthusiasm, I knew that one of my library goals, “To empower student voice”, was going to be an important one for this school year.  One student shared about his idea to design his own Skylanders and 3D print them.  Another wanted to create a set of model trains on the 3D printer.  Another wanted to explore the MaKey MaKey. and program things.  I told them all that we would figure out how to make this happen this year, but I needed some time to get the library going.

As usual, the start of the school year has been busy getting projects, lessons, and technology off the ground, so I had not gotten back to these students.  I just love when students feel comfortable to raise their voices.  I received an email a few days ago from two students that went something like this:

Dear, MR Plemmons

We would like to come to the makerspace once a week during recess if possible. We would love to use the makey makey to possibly control Sphero. If this is possible please email back.
I knew I needed to make this happen fast because I had already waited too long to let these guys start tinkering, so I responded back:
When is your recess and what day are you thinking of?  I want to make this happen for both of you.
And then they responded back with the day, time, and:
Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
The first day of tinkering was just awesome.  Within a matter of minutes, Kearn had the MaKey MaKey connected to Play Doh and was controlling a train simulator on the computer.  Ludwig controlled the horn and Kearn drove the train.  Kearn wanted to make a video to show what he had done, so we pulled out an iPad and made an impromptu video which he wanted to add to his Youtube channel.  He also started following my blog and even left a comment about how much he loves the makerspace.  Both students were completely independent and were perfectly capable of dreaming, tinkering, and making on their own.  I was available for support as needed, but they really just wanted a space to explore.  As they continue, I want to connect them with some experts that might mentor their ideas and curiosities, but for now, they just need to tinker.

This is what I’m talking about when I say “empower student voice”.  These two guys are full of energy and passion about making.  I am sure that they will figure out so many things that I couldn’t even imagine myself during the course of this year.  They willingly share their knowlege and expertise, and I’m sure that their tinnkering, failures, and successes will inspire and support many other student projects during the year.  When I see two students get so excited about learning like this, I can’t help but think about what other opportunties students need to spark their own passions for learning.  I hope that our makerspace is just one space that ignites students’ curiosities this year.

Developing Library Goals to Carry Into Every Collaborative Meeting

photo 2 photo 1

Last year, a book impacted my life, my library program, and found its way into so many conversations with students, teachers, and librarians.  “Expect the Miraculous” came to be our mantra in the Barrow Media Center thanks to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo.  It was all thanks to p. 130-131.

photo 3

This summer, as I sat down to develop our library program goals for the 2014-2015 school year, that mantra of expecting the miraculous everyday was still a big part of my thinking.  However, this summer I carried so much more with me as I reflected on goals.

I had my experiences and conversations with the #Wandoo5 at Evanced Games in Indianapolis.

photo 3 (3)

 

I had the moonshot thinking and action plan of the Google Teacher Academy and becoming a Google Certified Teacher.

graduation

 

I had the Invent to Learn Workshop with Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.

Photo credit: Sue Levine

 

I had numerous experiences at the ISTE 2014 conference including a zombie fighting keynote from Jennifer LaGarde, empowering talks from George Couros and Todd Nesloney, and inspiring keynotes from Ashley Judd and Kevin Carroll about the importance of each child’s story and the importance of play.

The more I reflected on my summer professional learning experiences the more I realized that I wanted this year’s goals to be different.  In the past, I’ve made big goals about developing the participatory culture in our library, but I’ve also made specific goals about the collection.  While the collection is important, it is not my primary focus for the library program.  I was reminded of a question in Jennifer LaGarde’s keynote about the Dewey decimal system and her answer of “who cares”.  Who cares if I have specific goals about the library collection?  What cares if the 300’s have the recommended number of books?  Who cares what the average age of the biographies is?  The heart of the program isn’t the physical collection.  The heart of the program is the students, the teachers, the families, and the community.  The heart of the program is the opportunities that they have through the library.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m abandoning the collection or that I don’t have goals about the collection.  It’s just that my primary goals of the library aren’t about the collection.

I want goals that I can carry with me into every collaborative meeting that I attend.  I want goals that I can put up on the walls of the library and add tangible evidence throughout the year of how they are impacting the students, teachers, and families in our school.  I want goals that support our school and district goals as well as reflect what is being talked about on a global level.

This week, I will share these goals with our faculty during pre-planning, but they’ve already faced their first test.  During our first day of pre-planning our principal set the stage for our year.  I must say that it was one of the most inspiring opening days that I’ve ever been a part of because it wasn’t filled with duties and responsibilities, mandates, and daunting changes.  Of course, all of those things  will be present this year, but our principal chose to focus on how we can value each child’s story, how we can add to and enhance that story by what we offer at school, and how we can develop a vision and mission for our school that represents what we truly believe in education.  As I listened and as I talked with other teachers, I was already carrying my goals with me, and I must say that I felt really good about the 4 goals that I’ve chosen.

These are the goals that are based on the themes that consistently surfaced in all of my reading, professional learning, conversations, and reflections.

Goal 1:  To provide students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share

blokify printing (2)

I chose these verbs carefully because I think that the order matters.  So often, we feel the time crunch in education and I think we often jump to having students make something with so many detailed requirements that they don’t have time to dream about what they hope they could make or have time to mess around, fail, and learn from those failures.  As I plan projects with teachers this year, I want to intentionally plan spaces for students to pause and wonder and have time to explore before they actually create a final product that is shared with an authentic audience.  I want us to think carefully about how we “show our work” just as Austin Kleon outlines in his books.  He says, “If your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.”  I’ll be thinking carefully about how we give students opportunities to create and also how they share their process as well as their final product.

Within this goal, I have subgoals about the number of large-scale projects I will do with each grade level, the development of our library makerspace, the collaborative relationships with our community makerspace and tech startup, and embedded digital citizenship.

Goal 2:  To engage in global thinking and global collaboration

Global TL logo

I can’t even count the number of times that global thinking and collaboration came up this summer.  I feel like so many people around the world are primed and ready for this endeavor during the upcoming year.  Last year, our library was more connected than it has ever been through authors, guest speakers, reading events, and peer feedback through Skype and Google Hangouts.  Even though we felt connected, most of our work was projects or single connections.  I would love to see global thinking and collaboration become more evident in what we do through long-term collaborative relationships around the globe and authentic questions and projects that matter to the world.  Within this goal are the many networks that I will be a part of this year including GlobalTL, Connected Classroom, Skype in the Classroom, and my Twitter PLN.  I’m inspired by the work of Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano and will look at her work as we plan this year.

As teachers and I plan this year, we will ask ourselves how we are being global thinkers and how we are connecting our students beyond the walls of our school.

Goal 3:  To empower student voice

IMG_3479

When I thought about this goal, I was reminded of many stories shared by George Couros at ISTE including the story of a little boy who made a video where he overjoyed by getting one “like” on a social media post.  I was reminded of Todd Nesloney sharing about his math fair and how he asked students to “wow” him by showing their math knowledge.  Students did more that “wow” him.  They shared their passions in life, involved their families, and were empowered.  I was reminded of how we all want to be heard and feel like we’ve made a difference.  As I plan with teachers this year, I want to ask how we are empowering each student by allowing them to share their passions and feel that their voice is heard.  In the library, I will continue to explore this as well by giving students opportunity to document our year, make decisions about library resources, share their passions through contests and displays, pass on their expertise through co-teaching experiences, and listening closely for opportunities I don’t even know about.

Goal 4:  To support the reading habits and curiosities of students, teachers, and families

It’s no secret that the more you read the better reader you become.  You of course need to have the skills and strategies to accompany that time commitment.  You also need access to reading that matters to you.  This year I want to be more intentional about supporting reading curiosities to match students, teachers, and families to the kinds of stories and information they are looking for.  I also want to be more intentional about documenting that commitment to reading.  Our library is not the only source of reading materials, so I want to continue to build a collaborative relationship with the public library, local bookstores, and other community resources to all work together toward a common goal.

This year, we will explore an Evanced tool called Wandoo Reader.  This tool will give students a portal for documenting their reading lives through tracking book titles and minutes read.  Along the way, there will be challenges issued to students, and within Wandoo Reader, they will earn pieces to a robot that they will customize.  I hope that this tool will offer a level of engagement for tracking reading as well as encourage students to spend more time reading in multiple ways from multiple locations.

IMG_3035

 

Our planning will begin this week and I look forward to carrying these goals with me, trying them out, and see what miraculous things happen this school year.

What are YOUR library goals?  I invite you to think about them in new ways and share.