Sunday, July 5, 2015

Are your students represented in their reading material?

Students are more likely to read and enjoy a book if they can relate to the characters. This means that white, female students are often able to find books that they enjoy. Many books today are written about white, female characters. So what about those other groups of students that we may be leaving out? Well, it is important to seek out books that fit with the population at your school, and some that have characters from outside that population. When I was in Willmar at Kennedy Elementary, I did this by selecting books in Spanish and Arabic (for our Hispanic and Somali students). In Prior Lake, I purchased books in Russian for our Russian immigrant students. While these books did help the students feel more at home in the library, the problem still remained that many of them were simply translated books about a white, female main character. Each year, while ordering books, I made it a priority to purchase books that covered a variety of topics and viewpoints. I would do this by looking for suggested book lists, finding books that had won awards for representing minority or diverse cultures (Coretta Scott King Award), and talking to other librarians. A great blogger, Ms. Debbie Reese, with the help of Edith Campbell, Sarah Park Dahlen, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Sujei Lugo, Nathalie Mvondo, and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, created and shared an inclusive and diverse summer reading list. I am currently reading many of the books on this list. I am enjoying them and will post follow up blog posts with reviews of these books. In the meantime, hop on over to and download the reading list for yourself. Then take the list down to your local library and check out the fantastic books on the list.
Get your summer read on!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Using YouTube as a Resource

How often do you teach a lesson only to be asked a million questions about it by students and parents? I find this to be particularly true of research lessons I teach. When I teach these research lessons, students are often at different places within the research process and need a chance to look back at the skills they have been taught. Although I am available to students as a resource, teaching a lesson over and over wastes time that could be spent on other important tasks. Aside from the lack of time, how many times does a student get home just to realize they need help and have no way to contact you? This spring, I began working on a YouTube channel to provide students, staff, and parents a resource that can be used anytime. This YouTube channel currently has 4 videos teaching basic research skills. I plan to add book talks and book trailers, technology reviews, and further lessons as time allows. I am currently down to using my iPhone for recording and a very outdated laptop for editing. This means I will be slightly limited in the videos I can put out, but as I go into fall and get a new computer to use, I expect this YouTube channel to be filled with great resources for all to use.
Do you use a YouTube channel for your school library? How do you advertise it? What kinds of content do you include on it?