With National Library Lover's month starting in just a few days, we thought it would be great to share some of the work that has been happening in libraries over the past 10 months.
Since March 2020 our schools have worked through a flux of transitions between remote learning, in-person learning, and hybrid learning. Not just once but multiple times during the school year, depending on the health and status of each cohort, class, school, our county and the state. As our schools have focused on supporting students and families while continuing the learning, our school libraries have continued to work to meet the needs of each instructional mode, safely providing access to resources and instruction for students and staff.
Libraries are the heart of the school community. Often referred to as the hub of the school, school libraries offer support for all students and their families, host community events, hold a diverse collection of books and resources for all, offer a place for all learners to explore interests and provide an instructional partner for teachers in the Digital Teacher Librarian (DTL). DTLs serve many roles in a school, but one of the most critical is to be a partner and coach for teachers, as teachers and DTLs collaborate and explore innovation in their teaching practice, in particular integrating technology and critical thinking skills throughout lessons.
The work for libraries, in particular our Digital Teacher Librarians, preceding the pandemic helped to prepare our schools for a smoother transition into remote learning. Grounded in the ISTE Standards, DTLs authentically embed digital literacy skills in content, working to prepare our students to be future ready citizens. Information and Media Literacy coupled with fostering a love of reading, DTLs curate relevant and meaningful resources for all students, providing opportunities through instruction to reflect and grow as learners.
In a traditional, non-pandemic setting, the library is a busy space all on its own. Now with the added challenges that come with properly quarantining resources and overseeing the management of the library in a whole new way we have found some great opportunities and continue to address the evolving challenges.
Bradford K-8 South Digital Teacher Librarian, Denise Cushing, found a new way to connect with students and promote a love of reading with their “Breakfast and Books” program. The group, of over 40 (mostly Kindergarten - 2nd grade) students, meet online weekly before school starts and engage in discussions and share books. Over Winter Break, Mrs. Cushing and the students participated in Read Across America and shared titles connected to states, such as Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (Utah) and Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley (Arizona).
From the start of the pandemic the request for books to be read aloud has been resounding nationwide. Publishers have responded and have temporarily adjusted their copyright permissions during this time to allow read alouds. With the guidelines shared, students and teacher librarians have found new ways to share their love of literature.
Kyle Walker, Digital Teacher Librarian at both Kullerstrand Elementary and Maple Grove Elementary, recently shared his read-aloud of Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, retold by Eric A. Kimmel. (you can watch as snippet of the video below).
Another success during the pandemic, students discovered new access to thousands of ebooks on their school library websites (Destiny Discover Library System). This is the result of a project three years in the making that happened to come together in the Spring of 2020.
During the periods of in-person learning, school libraries have worked to continue to support the desire for books. More now than ever before students appreciate and miss the ability to browse the stacks of books in the library. Our elementary libraries are working diligently to fill the demands as students request and place Holds on selections of books. The challenge in this time is managing the balance of properly allowing books to sit in quarantine for 72 hours, pulling the requested titles and (the best part) delivering the books to students in their cohorts. Our DTLs have had to think creatively about how best to support teacher and student requests, some schools are managing well over 200 requests at a time. Now, 10 months into this pandemic each day seems to get a little bit smoother.
Delivering books to students in classes has been one of the highlights throughout this time -the students are all so excited for new books!
Secondary students have been managing remote and hybrid learning throughout the school year. Middle School and High School libraries have worked to support students and staff through the new and innovative formats of asynchronous and synchronous learning. It has been a challenge to support the ever growing demands of overseeing the management of thousands of TechforEd devices deployed throughout the district, while continuing to keep the focus on the instructional practices that have grounded our DTLs, as they are teachers first.
Angie Wagner, DTL at Bear Creek High school, shared that she feels that one positive that has come from this time is that , “The students appreciate our space and all we do more, knowing how good it used to be when they could come and hang or work on work, a place to recharge.” While the challenge has been “Helping those students who really like coming in and thumbing through books. They like to put their hands on them, see the size of the font, the length, etc.”
At Conifer High School, Digital Teacher Librarian Karen McIntosh, reached out to the author of Watermarked, Danielle Butler, from the UK and connected her virtual reading group for an author visit.
Colleen Sologub-Sobering, DTL at Brady High School, said it well when she shared, “We are a conduit for our students and our teachers and staff to navigate through this uncertain time. They are looking to us for help in researching, learning, and trying new things. Not that this is so unusual, but it is the fact that we are working without always seeing the kids face to face, but we are helping them as much as we can.”
So if you get a chance this February - share some love with your school libraries! It will be greatly appreciated.
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