Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Interaction with Hella Rumschlag - Thurs. Oct. 18 to Wed. Oct. 20, 2007

Hella Rumschlag is in her second year as the media specialist and technology coordinator at Mohawk Trails Elementary School in Carmel, IN. This is also the second time she has joined this class as an expert practitioner in the field. Start by reading the archived discussions with her from last year (Nov. 2006).

Learn more about Hella at http://eduscapes.com/sms/overview/rumschlag.html.

Mohawk Trails Library Mediea Center http://www.ccs.k12.in.us/mte/MediaCenter/...htm

Hella's extensive background makes her an excellent resource for discussion on career change, combined responsibilties for technology and library media, and other topics directly related to schools and learning.

41 comments:

  1. Hello Hella!
    Thank-you for your time on this Blog!! I was reviewing your media center webpage of your school. I was intrigued by your Birthday Form link and so I clicked on it. I loved the overall idea of this Birthday Book Club. I think this is a great way to involve the parents, students, etc. Additionally, I think this is a great way to acquire materials. My question is, do you consider this a promotion, a form of interaction with the community, or a way to bring children into the library? Or does it involve all three? Also,I notice you state that by joining the birthday book club, this will provide a way to update the media center's materials. Thus, my question is, do you perform the WEEDING process often? Once you acquire the birthday books do you add them to the collection and WEED as well? Or do you just add the new books to your collection?

    Thank-you!
    Michele Linn

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  2. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Hella,

    Thanks for taking the time to blog with us. I am currently working a job-share with another media specialist at the high school level. I had worked at the secondary level for 8 years as a teacher, and had always thought I might enjoy working with younger students. Could you tell me what a typical day is like for you? What challenges and rewards do you feel are characteristic of teaching at the primary level?

    Thanks again,
    Kimberly

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  3. Anonymous3:09 AM

    Hello Hella,

    Yesterday the students, teachers, librarians and parents had seminars throughout the day on Cyber-Safety. I attended the teachers' seminar. It was very interesting as we were able to see things from the students' perspective - what's cool, cyber-bullying, ranking friends, sexual predators, etc.

    What are your thoughts on filtering, Web 2.0 (it's benefits & dangers) and cyber-safety in general.

    Details about the lecturer and other resources can be found at :

    http://del.icio.us/rtreyvaud
    http://cybersafekids.com.au

    Thank you.

    Karl

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  4. Hella6:16 AM

    Hi Michele,

    Thanks for your kind comments! I have gotten many positive comments about the Birthday Book Club from parents. They appreciate the opportunity to support the library. The kids love to see their names in the books and I've heard several point out to their friends: "This was MY birthday book." You are absolutely right in saying that it is a promotion for the library, a way of connecting with parents, and something for the kids to look forward to.
    I am finding that weeding is a constant, ongoing process. During the summer before my first year, I weeded many books from the fiction and picture book sections. This past summer, I weeded some of the Dewey section. I can't say that I've been systematic about it, but I do read the shelves over the summer and if I come across a book that is falling apart, or that is outdated, I remove it from the collection. Sometimes I make a note to replace it. I try to always keep in mind that an elementary school library should not be a museum for old books, but rather offer a fresh, appealing collection that is constantly updated.
    So - to wind up my long-winded answer -- once in a while a Birthday Book Club book will be a direct replacement for a worn-out copy on the shelf, but usually they are newer titles and are not directly tied to weeding.
    Hella

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  5. Hella6:42 AM

    Hi Kimberly,

    I do love working with younger kids because they are so enthusiastic about learning and are just discovering the joy of reading. I often wish that there were more hours in the day, but hopefully I will learn to be more efficient as time goes by :-)
    My typical day includes classes from all grade levels: K-5. I am part of the "specials" rotation, so I see 650+ students each week for mini-lessons before checkout. We have a new self-checkout system this year, so students in grades 3-5 can come in to check out their own books, whenever their classroom teachers allow. In addition, I have storytime with a Lifeskills class once a week, and work with small groups from several grade levels on research projects. As technology coordinator, I often make quick trips into classrooms to troubleshoot uncooperative equipment. (We have a part-time technician who handles the big stuff, but I'm learning more and more tricks for dealing with minor tech emergencies.) During the course of a month, we have 5 Lunch Bunch meetings for 2nd and 3rd grade classes, where I or a guest reader reads a YHBA picture book while kids eat their lunches in the library. This month we started a new lunchtime book club for 4th graders: Chat-n-Chew. We also have two Student Tech Team meetings each week, before and after school.
    The challenge for me is time management. Sometimes the lists I make for myself at the beginning of a day are untouched at the end. BUT - if I feel that I have facilitated learning on that day, either through a mini-lesson for an entire class, or by helping a teacher integrate technology into the curriculum, or by introducing a child to a book that makes their whole face light up - then I feel successful. I feel energized and don't mind working late to take care of that list.
    I am very fortunate to work in a building with a supportive staff and administrator. Their appreciation for my efforts also gives me energy to do my absolute best.
    Hella

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  6. Hella7:16 AM

    Hi Karl,

    Cybersafety is definitely a big concern. I know there is a program at the middle schools in our district that teaches parents and students about cybersafety.
    At the elementary level, I see that the "Google habit" seems to be starting younger and younger. Last year I did a mini-lesson with 4th and 5th grade classes about website evaluation, but I think I actually need to talk to 3rd graders about that this year. Students are shocked to learn that not everything on the Internet is true and that anybody can create a website. Wikipedia always comes up and we talk about the importance of verifying their information with another source. When we start research projects, I really push our subscription databases and the pre-screened websites available through Destiny's WebPath Express.
    Even so, some will still go to Google and occasionally find something that should not have made it past the filters. I do think filters are important at the elementary level because you can't monitor every child every minute and some of the inappropriate sites come up from perfectly innocent search terms.
    I have set up two online blogs for kids to comment on books. (Links are on the Mohawk Trails Media Center home page.) In addition to encouraging them to share their thoughts about books, I see this as an opportunity to teach kids blog "etiquette".
    My goal is not to discourage kids from using blogs, wikis, and from exploring the web, but at the elementary level, I feel it's important to help them understand the negative aspects and to model positive applications.
    Hella

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  7. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Hella,

    Your day sounds very busy! It seems that your school has a combination fixed/flexible program in which classes are scheduled in on a regular basis, but individual students also allowed down as needed.

    In class, we are discussing flexible vs. fixed scheduling for the media center. What are your feelings on the topic?

    Thanks,
    Kimberly

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  8. Hi Hella! I have been checking out your website and I am very impressed. I especially like how you have gotten the students involved with the BLOG. I am currently taking an Inquiry class with Larry's wife and we had to create a BLOG to recount our steps as we went through the research process. I was just curious about how the students participate in the BLOG. Do they add entries when they come to the media center? Is it only for certain grade levels? Did you have to set up their BLOG accounts? Since we live in such a technical age I am really interested in using BLOGS for some of my projects in class and just wanted to know how you go about it.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Hello again Hella!
    Thanks for the answers to my previous questions!! I have another question for you. I read how you created a collection list of books according to Indiana Standards while at Prairie Trace. I followed the link and reviewed your list which was impressive to say the least! What caused you to create this list? Is this one of your interest areas? Do you create new lists, or update the one you created? Do you consider this a form of collaboration, or at least communication with teachers? Do you provide this list to the teachers you work with currently?
    Thanks!
    Michele

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  10. Good evening Hella -

    In last year's blog, you mentioned plans to "set up an advisory board of students and teachers" in an effort to give these parties more ownership over their own library. Have you been able to do this? How has it worked? What kinds of issues does this group work with?

    I'm also interested in hearing more about the Student Tech teams. What grade levels participate? How do they participate in the technology of the school.

    I love the blogging idea. There are so many opportunities on your media center website for a student to be proud of active participation in the learning process.

    Thanks for talking with us!
    Katie

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  11. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Hi Hella,

    Thank you for your comments on cyber-safety.

    What software do you use to make your website? Do you use HTML code?

    How do you encourage students to visit your site? Internet Explorer opens automatically to our site, but I've noticed that students do not even look at it but exit immediately. I do not think that the students (also teachers) ever look at our site!

    Thank you.

    Karl

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  12. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Hella,

    Wow, you have so much going on...

    What a great blog idea- it lets those who want to share about their book do so and allows you to teach them blog etiquette.

    By blog etiquette are you referring to the safety issues or is there more to the does and don'ts on blogs?


    I am also glad to read about the grade school students doing self check. Some have feared that the system we have at school would not work for students to do self check outs.

    How much time is there at lunch for the "chat and chew". Is every one reading the same book? are you sharing from a book? any problems with younger students having food in the library?

    Thanks for sharing your fall break with us.

    Alice M.

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  13. Hella4:20 PM

    Hi Kimberly,

    In a perfect world, I think a flexible schedule would be ideal. In that perfect world, teachers and students would be committed to visiting the library every week and working with the media specialist to integrate information literacy into the curriculum. I know it works in some schools, but we're not there yet. I inherited the fixed schedule when I started, but I hope to continue to encourage more flexibility. The self-checkout station is a big step in that direction. I am doing more and more small group research projects and most teachers are great about changing their media schedules for a week or two so I can see their classes at another time during the day. This coming week, for example, I am starting small group research with 1st and 3rd graders. As a result, I have asked the 4th and 5th grade teachers to bring their classes at another time. Most found room in their schedules to do that. Later in the year, when 4th and 5th graders are doing a big research project, I'll be asking the 1st and 3rd grade teachers to be flexible.
    I'm sorry I can't give you a more definitive answer.
    Hella

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  14. Hella4:35 PM

    Hi Brooke,

    I set up the blogs with ifolder after taking a class with our district's technology trainer this summer. We started with just a YHBA blog, but several kids asked if they could also comment about other books. How could I say no to that! So I started another blog: Connecting with Books, and organized it by genre.
    When I first introduced the blogs to 4th and 5th graders, I had them all write "something" during their media time, just to practice. I handed out bookmarks with instructions on how to access the blog from their home computers. They can also comment from media center, computer lab, or classroom computers. I know some kids will never comment again, but some seem to have caught the bug :-) I try to respond to each comment, but I'm a little behind right now...
    The beauty of ifolder is that students do not need to have any kind of password or account. They know that their comments go to me for approval first. I would like to have a blog where you can have "threads" of conversation, so that kids can exchange ideas back and forth without other comments in between, but we don't have a system like that available to us right now.

    Hella

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  15. Hella5:24 PM

    Hi Michele,
    I have to tell you that the list was really not a big deal. I simply went through all of the Curriculum Frameworks lessons on the DOE website, and if there was a book associated with the lesson, I added it to the list. No original thought involved, and I had nothing better to do over Winter Break!
    I got the idea to compile these lists after reading an article by Carl Harvey and Leslie Preddy that discussed the importance of including these titles in the media center collection. It made sense to me that a list would be helpful. Denise Dragash, the media specialist at Prairie Trace, did a great job of promoting the DOE lessons and lists of titles to her teachers during a special "Books and Breakfast." I copied her idea and did the same at my school last year.
    I would love to see the Curriculum Frameworks lessons revised to include some newer titles.

    Hella

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  16. Hella5:44 PM

    Hi Katie,

    Wow, you've done your homework! No, sadly, I can't say that there is an advisory board. I still think it's a good idea, and hopefully we'll have one in the not-too-distant-future.
    The Student Tech Team started last April. I asked each 4th and 5th grade teacher to recommend two students from their classroom to participate. Pairs of students started training on various types of equipment. I would train the first pair on, for example, the LCD projector cart, and then one of the pair would go off to train on something else, while the other stayed and trained the next student. The "train and teach" concept worked very well for us. We had "proficiency cards" listing 12 pieces of equipment, and once a student demonstrated proficiency (we wrote the guidelines for proficiency together), they got their card punched in that spot. We had several weeks of practice before we started testing for proficiency. Students may come either Tuesday after school or Wednesday before school.
    This year, we are continuing with the returning 5th graders. This coming week, we are having a "Mini Tech Fair" during which students will provide hands-on training for teachers on various pieces of equipment. Some of our teachers are great with technology and others are still hesitant to try something new. The kids are really excited about showing what they've learned. I've gotten several comments from fourth and fifth grade teachers who really appreciate having these students in class! After this week, I'd like to shift the focus from hardware to software. In January, we will invite new fourth graders to join us.
    Hella

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  17. Hella6:07 PM

    Hi Karl,
    I currently use Front Page for the media center website. However, I must say that I do appreciate having learned HTML coding in L401 and in Annette Lamb's classes! I have a much better understanding of what's going on behind the scenes.
    I think that constant reminders and reinforcement make a difference on whether students and teachers go to the media center homepage. I make a point of building mini-lessons around links that are on the home page. For example, I show the kids how to find that next book to read. They can use the Explore feature on the Destiny catalog or go to the "Find a Great Book" link. One of the most frequently used links is for the lists of series books. I also put the blog links on the media center home page. When we do research projects, I do mini-lessons on our online databases, also linked from the home page. I am finding that it never hurts to repeat and reinforce; some kids just need to hear it more than once. At the beginning of the year, I sent home a brochure with a brief overview of the media center, as well as instructions for accessing the catalog and passwords for the online databases.
    One more thing: most of our teachers do not have their own websites yet (working on that...) so when they need a link for a student project, they ask me to put it on the "Links for Learning" page. So... once again, the kids are going to the media center home page first.
    Hella

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  18. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Hi Hella,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I will definitely start work on a brochure and I will also try out your other ideas.

    You have been very helpful.

    Thank you.

    Karl

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  19. Hella6:39 PM

    Hi Alice,
    Thanks - it is an honor to spend some of my fall break on this blog interaction!
    When I referred to blog etiquette, I was thinking about how people treat each other online. I ask students to be respectful. For example, they may write that they don't like a particular book, but they may not call someone else dumb for liking that same book. I haven't had to delete any inappropriate remarks yet. The only time I deleted a whole line was when someone gave away the ending to the book :-) Another point I stress is that students may only use initials to sign their comments. They know that I will delete first and last names.
    I know that our self-checkout system isn't foolproof. The kids love using it, but I know mistakes happen and some books walk out of the libary without being properly checked out. Even when adults check out the books, errors happen. I have come to believe that the vast majority of these books will eventually make their way back to the library. (Sometimes it takes a year, but they come back!) I liked a comment Alice Yucht made about us not being the keepers of the vault. I agree wholeheartedly. My goal is not to have the books lined up perfectly on the shelves; it is to get them into the hands of readers.
    When we have Lunch Bunch for 2nd and 3rd graders, some of them sit on "picnic blankets" on the floor. I make sure that all food is on the blankets, so that crumbs can be contained, but every once in a while, someone spills their chocolate milk. Yes, we have some stains on the carpet, but it's a small price to pay for exposing kids to good books. We may have 40-50 kids in the library when we host 2 classes at a time for Lunch Bunch.
    Chat-n-Chew, on the other hand, is for up to six 4th grade students at a time, and we sit at a table. For our first Chat-n-Chew, we all read The Kid Who Ran For President, by Dan Gutman. I threw out some discussion starters and the kids did the rest.
    Lunch periods are all 30 minutes long, so with students buying lunch and then having to dispose of their trays, we usually have about 20 minutes of actual meeting time.
    Again - I have to give credit to two other media specialists in our district for these lunchtime book club ideas. I feel very fortunate to have colleagues who are always willing to share ideas. I have found that is true of our profession in general; even though you may be the only media specialist in the school, you should never feel alone.
    Hella

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  20. Anonymous6:59 PM

    Hello Hella!

    I am so excited that you are joining us this week. I am also in my second year as the media specialist at my school, but I still have several classes to complete to "officially" become certified.

    Like many of my classmates, I checked out your webpage and was so impressed by the wealth of information you have available there. I am particularly interested in your blog for Young Hoosier books. We do a lot with Young Hoosier books at my school and I think that something like this would be a great addition. I have used blogs before for one of my classes using a blogging website, but have not set up a blog for my students. How hard is it to set up a blog? I notice you use ifolder. I have used that for online file storage, but not for blogging. What tips could you offer a beginner like me for getting started?

    Thanks!

    Mitch Lawson

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  21. Thanks Hella! It was nice blogging with you!
    Michele

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  22. Hella6:32 AM

    Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for your kind comments!
    I'm interested to hear what you do with YHBA books at your school. Last year we had a Battle of the Books for 4th and 5th graders. Students had to read a minimum of 5 books to participate on a team. Those who read 10 were invited to a pizza party in the media center. Those who read 15 received a gift certificate to a book store. I didn't have any students read all 20 last year, but I think I may this year.
    Our wonderful district technology trainer provided us with straightforward instructions on setting up the blog in ifolder. You can see her PowerPoint on the district website at http://myccs.ccs.k12.in.us/private/teaching-resources/technology-tips
    Hella

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  23. Hella,

    Thank you for the information on the BLOGS. I am definitely going to look into ifolder and mention it to our tech person in our building.

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  24. Hella-
    Again, I'd like to echo the thanks of my classmates- you've already provided such great information here that it is hard to find something new to ask you about! One thing I'd love to hear your imput in though is professional development.

    What types of workshops, programming, and/or conferences do YOU think are excellent to attend? Obviously, a busy MS can't attend everything or he/she would never get anything finished, so, being choosy, which ones to you choose to recommend or attend yourself? How do you recommend that new media specialists get involved with the school media specialist community in their area or state? How do you choose to keep yourself updated and fresh on new or emerging topics or ideas? Are there any local events that you think an Indiana MS just shouldn't miss?
    Any suggestions or opinions would be appreciated!

    thanks-
    Lora

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  25. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Hi Hella,

    Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

    You mentioned the Birthday Book Club as being a promotion that helps you to connect with the parents (and connect the parents with the school).

    I've heard from some teachers in carmel that the parent involvement is very high. Is this true?

    If so, I was wondering how that related to the parents being involved with the media center? Besides the Birthday Book Club, what do you actively do to reach out to the parents of the community (for collaboration or for support)?

    Or, do the parents generally find you? I wasn't sure if the high involvement of the parents was limited to the teachers or if they were involved with teacher-librarians as well.

    Thanks for your time.

    Heath Allen Dearing

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  26. Hi Lora,

    We have a lot of professional development opportunities in our school district.

    The Information Services people (technicians, tech coordinators, and media specialists) attend monthly meetings, during which we have a chance to learn about new software and hardware, share what we've learned at conferences, or ask others for advice. Just sitting and chatting with other media specialists often leads to new ideas.

    Within our building, we have monthly staff meetings which often include presentations by our principal, counselor, or teachers.

    We have professional development days where we are grouped at other schools for the afternoon to learn about new programs. In fall of 2006, the focus was on integrating Language Arts standards into the Social Studies curriculum. This fall, the focus is on balanced literacy.

    Our district tech trainer comes after school one day a month to teach our staff how to use new or existing software more effectively. She also offers a wide variety of technology classes over the summer.

    Some of these professional development opportunites are specifically geared toward media specialists, but I feel that it's very important for me to attend the same professional development events as classroom teachers. If I want to be respected as a teacher and be able to integrate information literacy skills into the curriculum, I have to know what classroom teachers are learning and what is going on inside the classrooms. I signed up for the professional development committee this year, but we haven't had a meeting yet.

    I think it's also important to go to conferences. AIME is a great one to go to. Last year I only made it to one workshop of ICE, because of a conflict, but it's on my calendar for next year. I've been to two Peggy Sharp seminars, which are wonderful for learning about the best new literature for kids. I have also been to some one day workshops that weren't as helpful as I'd hoped. If you go to a big conference, you will surely come away with something you can use.

    As far as staying in touch with the school media community throughout the state, I would recommend signing up for the AIME listserv. Volunteering for AIME committees, such as Media Fair and the YHBA committees, has also helped me get to know other media specialists. To communicate with media specialists around the world, the LM_Net listserv is amazing! The number of e-mails can get a bit overwhelming, but even if you don't sign up, the searchable archives contain a treasure trove of information.

    Hella

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  27. Hi Heath,

    I was really hoping someone would give me an opportunity to talk about our parents - thanks!

    It's true - the level of parent involvement in our school is very high. We have about 30 parent volunteers in the media center. Some come every week, some just once a month for 2 hour shifts. I am so grateful for their help. We simply could not have the media program that we do without them.

    My paid assistant works only 3 days a week and is considered a building instructional assistant, so she also has lunch duty and can be pulled into a classroom at any time. This year she is also being pulled to work with small groups of students as part of a new reading program. So... she is not spending a lot of time in the library. This is just the reality of funding issues and I understand that my principal has difficult choices to make when deciding where to spend limited resources. While I will continue to ask for full-time help, I am relying heavily on parent volunteers to fill the void. They are fantastic and do everything, including checking in and out, shelving, cataloging magazines, putting up displays, etc. If we didn't have our parent volunteers, I would be doing clerical duties all day.

    I know that there are media centers out there (even within our district) who do not have parent volunteers and do not have assistants at all. So... I really can't complain.

    At the beginning of the year, students receive information packets. I provide enough copies of birthday book forms and parent volunteer applications for each student. We have one parent who is the volunteer coordinator and she sends me a schedule of volunteers for each month.

    Hella

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  28. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Wow! Hella.
    Your website is great! I had not visited it before. I’m delighted to see the collections list that correlates to the lessons in Frameworks. That is impressive!! I’m sure I’ll use it. Thanks.

    I’m a new media specialist this year. I keep thinking “as soon as I get caught up”….. You know the feeling? Anyway, I am getting ready to introduce 5th & 6th graders to blogging for book discussions. Thanks for sharing how you start out with them all together in the media center. Are the teachers involved also? I’m planning that the students/teachers will use format for their literature circle discussions (or maybe an extension to their discussions). They would be using the computers in the classroom once we get started. Do you think this will work? By the way, I’m at 4 schools, 1 school a day, and then rotate on the 5th day. So I’ve only discussed this with the teachers that I know have literature circles in the classroom. I’ve thought that the teacher and I will respond to each other, too, to model responses. You mentioned that you use ifolder and that you read their responses before they are posted. I wonder if both classroom teacher and I could share that role. I will take a look at ifolder to see if it would work in that way.

    You have a link to SmartDESKTOP on your teacher’s resources page. Do you use the collaboration features? I’ve had some training to use it, but haven’t “reached out” for other media specialists for collaboration. Do you know of a way to do that? You have to have a way to contact individuals in order to ask them.

    Thank you for taking time for our class. I will visit your website and links in the future, I’m sure.

    Cindy Carpenter

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  29. Hella5:54 PM

    Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for your kind comments! I really appreciate that.

    I love the idea of using the blog for literature circles. Our teachers stay with their classes during media time (it is not a "prep time"), so they have all seen the blogging mini-lesson. I was thrilled when two teachers asked about setting up their own class blogs. Another teacher posted a comment, which was also great for getting kids motivated. I would love for the kids to blog from their classroom computers when they have time. It would be easy for both you and the teacher to post on the same blog; you just need to share the username and password.

    I am so impressed that you handle 4 different schools. I know that many media specialists do that, but it makes me tired just to think about it. You must be much more efficient than I am!

    The link you found for Smart Desktop is actually from the district's Teaching Resources page, which was set up by someone at our central office. I have never used it, but now you've made me curious about the collaboration features. Thanks!

    Hella

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  30. Hi Hella -

    As I'm reading through the various responses, I'm excited about the emphasis you put on empowerment in your library program. In so many different venues, you seem to put the responsibility for various things in the hands of the students, from technology support to literature discussions. This is such an encouraging trend, and one that I hope to make a foundation within my "someday" program.

    You mentioned that your tech team students come in before or after school on certain days. Do you open your library outside of school time for a variety of users? Is this on a consistent basis? Or is it for certain programs?

    Thanks for all the great information!

    Katie

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  31. GREAT! Thanks so much for all the good tips. I have been to Peggy Sharp things before- she IS great! Can you tell me a bit more about getting together with all the other tech/media people each month? Is that development built into the school day? Is it instead of a faculty meeting? How does that work into your school time?

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  32. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Hella,

    Thank you so much for the link to the ifolder set-up information. You have been so helpful with all of the information on blogging you have shared with us. I am really excited about this new posibility.

    At my school we also do the pizza party for the Young Hoosier book readers. I do book talks on most of the books at some point in the year. I do book challenges with some of the readers, encouraging them to read a particular book faster than I do, or to get through a particular section first. They really enjoy knowing when they are ahead of me in their books!

    I had approximately a third of the kids who were eligible earn the pizza party last year, which was exciting. Now, some of the teachers are purchasing the entire collections for their classrooms and also challenging their own students. In fact, last year one teacher had every student in her class eligible for the party!

    Teachers, administrators, and even teaching assistants are also invited to attend the party if they achieve the goal, so it has become something that everyone in the building is a part of! I really like your idea for prizes for those who read all, or even most of the books. I'll have to look in to that more.

    Thank you again for all of your wonderful advice!

    Mitch Lawson

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  33. Anonymous8:24 AM

    Hella,
    I think it is great that you get to implement so many programs. Do you also work reference? I have some problems with scheduling programs at my public library. I am the children's librarian, but I also cover the Reference desk as we are a branch. How to you find a balance? --Courtney Klueh

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  34. Anonymous8:26 AM

    I love the idea of a book club during lunch. Do you have problems keeping the kids engaged? I do storytimes for younger children. I received some advice to remove any distractions from the room during our sessions. I think this really depends on the age of the children you are working with. I also know lunch is down time for the children. --Courtney Klueh

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  35. Anonymous8:31 AM

    My mom works at a school where the library is run solely by volunteers. They have several, but one parent really runs it. While, I do think they need a full-time librarian, because the rest of the school is fantastic and it the libray could be so much better. I do think it is a great idea to have parent volunteers help. It helps get parents involved with their children's education, and frees up the librarian to do other tasks. I also think it is inviting to have a familiar face to the children, especially in smaller schools where children will be more familiar with families. Do most schools recruit parent volunteers? How could you set this up? --Courtney Klueh

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  36. Hella1:32 PM

    Hi Katie,
    I do think it's very important for the staff and students to understand that this is THEIR library. It's not MY library. And as such, I am always open to feedback and input to better serve the needs of the school community.

    I should explain how our library is set up. There are no doors, only 4 very wide openings from two parallel hallways. The shelves bordering the hallways are about waist-high and there is no barrier from there to the ceiling. At first I was worried about the noise level from the hallways, but it is rarely a problem. There is a "sunroom" that is set back a little, and that's where we have storytime and Lunch Bunch. The openness of the library makes it a very welcoming place and I don't mind at all if kids want to cut through from one hallway to another. Sometimes they slow down if something catches their eye; sometimes it's just a chance to say hi.

    Teachers are welcome to check out whatever they need 24/7. We have "after hours checkout" slips at the circulation desk. I am also very flexible on student checkout. If I'm here, they are welcome to check out. That includes before or after school. I just want them to always have something to read.

    Hella

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  37. Hella1:38 PM

    Hi Lora,

    Our monthly Information Services meetings are after school from 3:30-5:00. Our school staff meetings are also held monthly, but on different days, starting at 2:45. When we have district-wide professional development days, the students are dismissed at 10:50 and our classes start around 12:30.

    I know every district does things a little differently, based on schedule and contract differences.
    Hella

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  38. Hella1:42 PM

    Thanks, Mitch, for sharing your YHBA program! It sounds like you've done a great job of getting the kids and teachers excited about it. I am hoping for more participation this year than last. It was great to hear kids talking about the pizza party and Battle of the Books already at the beginning of this year. Some other schools in the district have been doing this for a long time and they have an amazing number of kids participating. So, I think it will just take some time to build.

    Thanks again,
    Hella

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  39. Hella2:02 PM

    Hi Courtney,

    I am fortunate that I have a principal who is very open to new ideas. She has approved pizza parties, Lunch Bunch, and self-checkout without hesitation. I can't think of anything she's turned down!

    I would say that I help students find answers to their questions when they ask, but we don't have a separate reference desk as you would in a public library. When classes start research projects, I do mini-lessons on using various print and electronic resources, to show them how to find the information they need on their topic. Since each class usually has a fixed media time each week, I schedule other activities between classes.

    I find that some books will keep kids more engaged than others. When we have Lunch Bunch, kids have some time to socialize before we start reading. Sometimes they also have time to chat at the end. I try to make it interactive, asking kids to make predictions about the story, or asking comprehension questions. The encouraging thing is that Lunch Bunch is completely voluntary, but each month, we have nearly 100% attendance from each class. It is much quieter than the cafeteria and I have noticed that the kids are much neater than they are in the cafeteria. Hmmmm.

    I can't imagine not having our parent volunteers. I think most schools actively recruit parents to help, but I couldn't tell you exactly how they go about it. We put volunteer forms in every child's information packet at the beginning of the school year. Once the volunteer coordinator has had a chance to compile some names, I offer two 30-minute training sessions (really just an overview) in the morning and afternoon. If parents can't make either of those times, we just train one-on-one when they first come in.

    Hella

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  40. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Hella-
    This session of questions and responses has been very helpful. You have pumped a lot of us up with discussion of your many programs and all the student involvement. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Cindy Carpenter

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  41. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Hella,
    Like Michele I loved your Birthday Book Club form on your website. I worked at an elementary school that had a birthday book club. We didn't have a form posted on our website, but I think it is an excellent idea! So many people turn to the web that this is a great way to reach more parents. I had never seen a birthday book club at other elementary schools. I think it is a great way to get children involved. Do you also send the form home with students when their birthday is approaching?
    Thanks!
    Melissa

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