Sunday, July 23, 2017

PFTSY Part 3, Library Welcome Folder/File

Library Welcome Folder/File

It's a new school year, and everyone has just enjoyed a long summer break, so it's natural if everyone (I'm included) has forgot library policy and procedures.  There will also be new teachers and staff who will need to know the library schedules, and what the library has to offer.  This is why I create a Welcome to the Library File to share with the staff.  Here are the basics for the welcome file.

The Library Schedule

M-F Schedule
I include a PDF copy of the library schedule.  It lists every class or open session during library hours.  I also include the times for book clubs, library crafts, and other library activities.

Library Fee Schedule

Damaged book

It's important to make the district library fee schedule as transparent as possible.  I include a PDF copy of it for the staff, and post one up in the library.

Textbook and Library Policy

Textbook and library policy.
I wrote up the district textbook and library policy in an abbreviated format, and print it out two to a page.  I then distribute a copy of this to every student during textbook distribution (usually the first week of school).  A few examples of the guidelines:
  • Students use school ID numbers to check books out and use the computers in the library.
  • Acceptable Use Policy documents must be on file with student and parent signatures.
  • Damaged books should be returned to library immediately for replacement. (If book is not returned within two weeks of receiving it, the student will be held financially responsible for the replacement cost.) Any books damaged during the year are also the student's responsibility.
  • Do not lend your books to anyone or check out books for a friend. 

Welcome Back Letter

Welcome sign
Welcome the staff back in a letter that gives an overview of your plans for the year.  Include the main activities and events, and encourage the staff to contact you for any of the resources you can provide.

Library Procedure

Procedures for library visits.

How should classes walk in?  Is there arranged seating?  When can students get up to browse for books?  Can they use the computers the entire class visit?  I provide a copy of the library procedures and ask teachers to review and practice these procedures before the first class visit.  These are standard procedures, and can be flexible, but not dismissed.

School Site Program Rules/Guidelines

Using electronic devices.

Include the policy and rules for special media and programs.  I include the rules and procedures for the Accelerated Reader program, since we have a school-wide program in place.  I also include information about our laptop cart, the maker space, and our TAG readers.

Other items you may want to include are copyright guidelines for educators, a link to your library year at a glance, a copy of your library brochure (PR materials), and a form for teachers to request special materials or instruction for a particular library visit.  Whenever possible, be sure to also have translated copies of your handouts to share with the community where needed.

A welcome folder is a great way to share your plans for the year and inform the staff about the library program.  It can also be a welcome page on your website or blog.  Let the staff know that the library is ready to collaborate and provide resources to create what we always work for:  An amazing school library experience!

All images from pixbay.  Thanks Pixbay!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Planning for the School Year, Part 2

Planning for the New School Year:  

Library Themes

Every year, I pick a theme for the entire library, and all the decorating, activities, and library events center around the theme.  I do this for several reasons. 
  1.  A theme for the year helps me structure the activities so that they feel cohesive.
  2.  I decorate once, and don't have to change the majority of the decor for the rest of the year  I switch out only one bulletin board on a monthly basis.
  3.   The students really enjoy having a library theme, and get into the spirit of the theme throughout the year.
  4. It is a fun way to engage student interests and create opportunities for dialogue.
  5. It is a fun way to keep me on my toes, and keep me engaged as well.

Creating a Library Theme for the Year


First, I do research on current trends, movies, and fads.  This is important, because we want to engage students, and want them to seek out the library.  The first goal is to get them to voluntarily walk into the library.  I look at what's playing at the cinema, what's being talked about on television shows.  I check out the latest programs on kid-oriented television stations and social media (YouTube).  And, of course, I read the latest children's literature.  Once I've looked at all of this, I pick a theme.  Theme's I've selected in the past are Board Games, Superheroes, Picture book characters, The Jungle, Dinosaurs, Space, and Around the World.  Also, always keep your audience and patrons in mind.  In an K-6th grade school, I would not pick a farm theme because I want to attract all the students, not just the primary elementary grade students.

Library Motto

Once I've decided on a theme, I decide on the year-long motto.  For board games, it was "Get Your Reading Game On!"  For the around the world theme, it was "Reading Takes you Places!"  For the dinosaur theme:  "Take a Ride on the Readasaurus."  The central bulletin board's decor reflected the theme and motto, and included the motto in giant lettering.

Central Bulletin Board for Board Game theme.

Sections of the Library

Second, I take a look at all the sections of the library and decide what theme-based images, bulletin boards, or wording will go in each section.  The best way to illustrate that is to share what I did last year. 
Last year, my theme was Board Games/Game Apps, so each section/display/bulletin board (minus the rotating bulletin) showcased the theme.  The monthly book selection was the "Check It Out" area, and the bulletin board was a checker board.  The character building bulletin was "Be a Winner at LIFE" and the bulletin resembled a LIFE board game.  The story corner was decorated like the Candy Land game, and the heading was "Story Land."  


At our site, we also have the Accelerated Reader Program, so the tracking wall for AR was based on the popular game app, Plants vs. Zombies.

There were also other areas with game-based messages and images.  The main bulletin board, a Monopoly-like game board, and the AR wall were both interactive.  I played the "-opoly" on the wall with all the classes, and the zombies "advanced" on the Plants vs. Zombies wall as the different grade levels increased their word count throughout the year.

Modify Activities to the Theme

Many of the activities throughout the school year are the same activities I enjoy sharing with students year after year.  Having said this, the activities themselves do change in presentation depending on the theme.  For example, the first weeks of class library visits are centered around library norms, rules and procedures, and using the OPAC.  The theme for the year changes my approach on the subject.  This last year, many of my activities were turned into games to reflect the overall theme.  So instead of sharing information about part of a book and completing a handout or other activity, we had a Parts-of-a-Book relay game, where teams of students raced to identify parts of a book (no running, of course).  I usually modify at least one of the month's activities to reflect the theme.  I will still teach the parts of a book to my students next year, however the approach will change according to the theme I select.


For the rest of the year, any signs, flyers, and other promotional materials for the library also reflect the theme and library motto.  There are many opportunities throughout the year to run with the idea and have fun engaging students in library activities.

I enjoy the process of selecting a theme and planning the year's activities with the theme and motto in mind.  It makes my job even more engaging and gratifying, and I know the students appreciate the effort because they are quick to participate and comment on the activities throughout the year.  
Finally, I do want to point out that the most I spent out of pocket on my theme this last year was $30.  I use the materials and tools available, and try not to spend out of pocket.  Creating a library theme requires a lot of time and planning, however, it strengthens my library program and allows me to focus on other job duties the rest of the year.

Have fun creating for your library theme!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Planning for the New School Year, Part 1

Planning the Year Using Spreadsheets

It's the end of June, and I still have a month of vacation.  While on vacation, I'll be sharing a few tools and strategies for taking a proactive approach to school library management and activities.
My first share is the template I use for planning out the year.

Using Spreadsheets for the Year at a Glance

I use Google spreadsheets to create the Year at a Glance sheet.  The first column includes a rowfor each week in the year, and the rows are divided by month.  For each month, I also include a row for School Curriculum.  On this row, I write what unit/s of study the teachers are working on for each month.  As you can see from the image, I label each week simply with "week 1, week 2, etc." and not with specific dates.  The reason for this is to allow for flexibility in the schedule.  In my case, I need to work my activities around district testing, state testing, CELDT testing, school-wide events, grade level events, and more.  The dates will be written down on the othere spreadsheets created for each grade level (the tabs are visible at the bottom of the image).  I then create a column for each grade level, K-6th.  For each grade level, I write down the month across the rows for easier tracking. 

The next step is to fill in the information for each month.  Here is a screenshot of my September schedule for some of the grade levels.
The great thing about using the google spreadsheet is that I can add links to files, videos, and more to the document itself, and don't have to look at a separate document to know what I will be using for the activity.  I'm not very detailed in these cells because it is just a year at a glance.  I can include the links to the documents that include the detailed lessons and activities.

Keeping Track of Activities by Grade Level

I am not required to take attendance, but I do so using the spreadsheet for each grade level.  I also use the grade level spreadsheet to add more detail to the activity information, and add notes for each class. Here's a screenshot of the first few months for the 4th grade classes.  Each teacher receive a column for her class.

This last year, I just marked an X to indicate that an activity was completed by the class.  This year, I will go back to adding the date the activity was completed.  Also, on this sheet, I included the read aloud for fourth grade.  For the lower elementary, we have read alouds almost weekly, so those are added to each activity cell.  To the right (and not on this image) I have a Notes column as well, where I write notes to myself about the lesson/activity, about the class (behavior), and about action items.  I used to have notes on a separate binder, however, I was constantly flipping pages and it wasn't very efficient.  Now, with a quick glance, I can see my notes on the same page as the activity.  The once change I will make this year is to create a separate "action item" column.

Using this spreadsheet has made it easier to keep track of the activities for the year, and helps me note down important changes, and daily interactions with each class.  This is an easy way to have all the information in one place. For each of these activities, I have separate documents that include the lesson plan, links, resources, and more.   Also, I like the simplicity of the spreadsheet in grayscale, but I know that others may enjoy using colors and fonts to enhance this spreadsheet.

You are invited to copy and use the spreadsheet template as needed.  Have fun plotting out the next school library year!