Monday, October 02, 2006

Blog Interaction with Elizabeth Winningham – Thurs Oct. 5 to Sat. Oct. 7, 2006

Elizabeth Winningham began her school library career opening the media center at Avon Intermediate School (Now designated as East). More recently, she was centrally involved in the planning, development, and opening of the media center for a new school, Avon Intermediate School West (Her present work location).

Learn more about Elizabeth Winningham at

Elizabeth is a return participant for these blog interactions. You will find last year's discussions with her here at this blogsite: Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2005. Elizabeth has unique insights into reading and approaches for helping reluctant readers, collaborative planning, information literacy, and experiences in planning and opening a new school media centers. Don't limit disccussion to these topics; Elizabeth has a wealth of career and professional information, ideas, and experience to share. Try to extend this year's conversations in ways not covered previously.


  1. Elizabeth Winningham7:35 PM

    This is Elizabeth Winningham: I would like to introduce myself to everyone. I am a media specialist, teacher and parent. Our corporation is presently looking at how to improve our school's literacy rate, it's cultural diversity (which is changing rapidly) and it's effect on learning and a corporation research model for K-12. So as you can see, we are busy. I am also the school webmaster in the process of a major web site overhaul. I have the honor of being part of the "People to People" delegation to China this fall to discuss freedom of information and access as well as compare notes with our Chinese counterparts in school libraries.

    I work in a new school of 600+ fifth and sixth graders with a staff of 24 gen ed teachers. I have one full-time assistant, who happens to be a retired media specialist. We are a fixed/flex schedule media center with all gen ed teachers staying in the media center during classtimes. Lessons are planned with the curriculum of the students in mind, however, some periods do include media skills out of context.

    In January our school works on a building wide cultural project which is spearhead out of the media center. All 5th graders complete a research project about their family and heritage. This project takes about a month and is then presented orally in the classroom to the gen ed teacher. Our sixth graders will be completing a different project this year about their country of origin.
    The 5th grade explores some of the cultural diverstiy cities in the United States and the 6th graders discuss the European and Latin American countries in their curriculum. This project was new last year and their are some changes being made for this year.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


  2. Elizabeth,
    On our "resume" you mentioned that you had a personal interest in co-planning and integrating technology into the curriculum.
    Do you have anyone else on staff that aids in technology integration, or are you the only one that is working on that? How do you manage integrating technology and integrating information literacy standards during the collaboration process?

    I am in the process of rolling out a technology integration plan in which we are trying to determine if it would work best to keep our fixed computer technology class or change over to flexible scheduling. Therefore, I am always curious how fixed/flexible scheduling works for other schools and why. I have read a lot about the benefits of flexible scheduling for library media programs, and I would love to hear your comments on how your flexible/fixed scheduling works, why you chose to keep fixed scheduling as part of your library media program, and why this particular system works for your school?

    Katie Baker

  3. Elizabeth Winningham3:34 PM

    Katie, My schedule is a fixed/flexiable because of my principal and because of the staff. I have regular checkout times scheduled in however, if a class or teacher wants to co-plan an activity that class takes priority and my class scheduled for checkout doesn't get a lesson. They will just check out and read silently. I say just- but silent reading time is invaluable, students do not have enough free silent reading time in our schedule. The teachers that take the time to co-plan and work with me (my flexiable schedule) have priority and this policy is backed by my administration.

    Intergrating technology into our curriculum is building wide. We have three computer labs that hold thirty students each, each classroom has four machines in the back, each teacher has a multi-media computer attatched to thier TV's and we have a media production room with four student multi-media production machines for project use. I intergrate technology whenever I can into my lesson plans and we have a corporation wide technology curriculum. I have a full time computer assistant that monitors and helps the teachers in the computer labs. Every student is reguired to keyboard every week. Powerpoint projects, video editing and webquests and all worked into everyday classroom instruction through the classroom teacher. I assist in locating these materials. I also use my front page of my OPAC (Destiny) to provide internet links for research projects and classwork as often as possible. Our school corportation wants students to "cruise" the internet as little as possible. The OPAC front page allows me to provide internet sites or connect to our Intranet for worksheets and assignments.

    When collaborating with teachers, I offer resources and provide them extra sites after our inital meetings. Literacy standards are in the back of my head at all times but we focus on state standards and curriculum first. I add information standards and then technology standards. I think you will find that if you meed state standards and curriculum using technology- you will also meet technology and literacy standards. It is alot to try and inter-twine and sometimes is not do able. For this generation technology is second nature. Just let it flow and be conscience of intergrating it into your lesson plans. Students will follow your lead.

  4. Thanks so much for your response. I never thought about have a fixed schedule, and adding a flexible one on-top of it. Is there another adult in the library to watch the other kids when you are teaching a collaborative lesson? Furthermore, do the teachers come to the library with their class when you are teaching the collborative lesson? I am having a problem with teachers coming to my computer lab when we are teaching a collaborative lesson. Any suggestions?

  5. Elizabeth Winningham5:26 PM

    Teachers stay with their classes at all times. I stress co-teaching and clearly plan out the media specialist roles and teacher roles. I like to include the classroom teacher whenever possible. The classroom teacher handles behavior issues, requests for bathroom breaks and classroom management issues. I do not know each teachers classroom rules. This way they maintain controll of their classes. I set the rules for the media center and lab and teachers help enforce those rules. Behavior is rarely an issue. The students find having an extra adult a positive. It allows me or the classroom teacher to work more one on one. I simply do not give the teachers a chance to not come with their classes. My administration is very supportive and likes to see co-teaching as well as collaborative lesson planning. I am usually the leader teacher. Some days the teachers can grade papers and other days we utilize them to the fullest. Flexiability is the name of the game for us. "I scratch their back..they will scratch mine when necessary."

  6. Sorry about the typos in the last posting. I was in a hurry and thought I had pushed the preview button and posted by mistake.

  7. Have you always worked in the intermidiate grades? If not, what other grades have to taught in the media center? Do you find it helpful to be able to focus on two grade levels instead of five or six?

  8. Elizabeth Winningham7:21 PM

    As a professional I have only worked with 5 and 6. I worked in a k-4 building when I was getting my SLIS and teaching license. I also worked one semester in a middle school. I student taught k-5 and then high school. I love working just two grades. I really know the curriculum and I love the age. The downside is that I teach alot of the same skills up to 12 times in each grade. If I only had two or three classes in each grade there would be more variety. I find that I have refined and truely enjoy the curriculum that I teach. I do not enjoy 7th and 8th graders as much. My personal strenghts are reseach and technology. This age is just begining to enjoy those aspects of information inquiry.

  9. Nicki Kirchoff11:21 AM

    I read in one of your descriptions that you're working on the reluctant readers. Any advice or strategies that have really worked for you in the library?

  10. Thanks. It sounds like a great opportunity to work exclusively with two grade levels.

    Also, I've never heard of the classroom teacher staying with their classes during media lessons. I am a classroom teacher, but would be more than willing to stay and work with the media specialist. We could accomplish so much more if we worked together. I may suggest it and see if she'd like to have me there for lessons.

  11. Elizabeth Winningham3:37 PM

    Reluctant readers are always on my mind. I could not read in 5th grade. I understand what it feels like to be the kid who checks out the big book to hide the truth. i make it my job to see how the students do on our reading tests that we give at the beginning of the year and then in Jan. I like to know who the struggling readers are. I then work one on one, when their class comes to the media center and take a personal interest in what they are reading. If necessary I work with the LD teacher and get them level approprate books without the other kids knowing. We use books on tapes/CD to help struggling readers. I have also starting purchasing age level graphic novels. The struggling readers do not realize they are harder to read than a regular book. If you want information about Graphic Novels, Robyn Young has done research using them and is very informative. I am just fenturing into that Genre. Be careful- content can get interesting. Preview every book before they go on the shelve! I have a lunch bunch group that is listening to books and I have a lot of struggling readers in this group. Sometimes, just getting them hooked on a good book is the first step. This is an area that really depends on the struggling readers desire to not be a reluctant reader. I just let them know that they are not alone and they can over come their fears on reading.