Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Janette Fluharty - Thur. Oct. 16 to Sat. Oct. 18, 2008

Janette Fluharty has been a teacher for thirteen years, having taught for ten years in a general education classroom and now in her third year as the teacher librarian at Avon Intermediate School East in Avon, IN.

Passions: teaching, reading promotion, technology integration, and collaboration with peers.

Biggest Surprise About Her Job: She LOVES 5th and 6th graders.
Best Part of Her Job: Working with teachers and students
Hardest Part of Her Job: Finding the time to fit it all in

Learn more about Janette by visiting:


  1. Anonymous4:27 PM

    Hey Ms. Fluharty,

    I see your area of interest is Battle of the Books. It's funny because while I was younger I hated reading. It was only through this competition that I actually cracked books and it was more so I could cream somebody else than actually for enjoyment. But I must say it did have an impact on me as I really started enjoying my literature classes and became a library assistant during my 7th grade year. My question is, is there a general organization that makes this competition up or is it something an individual librarian does? As a kid I thought it was unique to our school and was made up by our librarian. I couldn't even think it was done in some other school. By the way, I went back to my old middle school a few years ago and while I was there, I made sure my name was still on the wall showing that I had one the 5th grade championship in 1988.

    Chad Gish

  2. Christina Moore4:33 PM

    Hi Janette,

    Thanks for taking time to share with us. I was reading your overview and you mentioned that your media center uses a fixed and flexible schedule. In class, we have had discussions this week about scheduling. I was curious why you consider the combination of fixed and flexible to be the best of both worlds.

    Christina Moore

  3. Thank you so much for taking time to answer our questions!

    Are there any strategies you use to get students interested in reading? I see you do a lot of promotion with Battle of the Books and book clubs, but how do you handle those students who don't want to participate in these programs?

    Thank you,
    Lauren Wiley

  4. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Hi Janette,

    I was checking out your website (which is very thorough and impressive!)and noticed that you have two book clubs. Could you talk about how you established these book clubs? Do you have a regular group of kids who come to each? Do you have a book club for 5th grade as well?

    Also, I'm wondering about what types of collaboration you are involved with at your school -- do you collaborate and co-teach with classroom teachers?

    Thank you for taking time to blog with us!

  5. Chad,

    How funny! Hopefully some of my kids will come back to see if their picture is still on display and they will be able to say the same things about East's Battle of the Books. I've often wondered if they keep their medals.

    I have several books about how to host a Battle of the Books and there are sites where you can purchase questions. Because it's cheaper and easier, I write my own questions and create my own list of books. The first three years I pulled books exclusively from the Indiana Young Hoosier Book nominee list. This year, I'm trying something different with the hopes of reaching more kids who really don't like to read. I am using 16 YHB nominees and 8 books I chose. The books I selected were chosen for a variety of reasons including: because of the author, because they were part of a series, because I knew kids would read them, and a couple just because I loved them. My hope was if I could hook a kid on an author or series, then, he/she would get turned on to reading. Sometimes they just don't know what to read and once they find an author or series, they're hooked! :-)

  6. Christina,

    Admitting you enjoy having a fixed schedule is somewhat scandalous!

    Although I do have weekly, scheduled time with each class, I am not tied into the teachers' prep time. Because I am not covering their prep time, teachers come with their classes to media time. And, if I have a collaborative project that I am involved with, the class just has check out time supervised by my assistant and the classroom teacher. If I am not co-teaching, I have give a little mini-lesson, promote Battle of the Books, provide instruction on how to use the media center, or share booktalks.

    I really like seeing the kids on a regular basis. It allows me to make personal connections with them and then they want to participate in my programs, book clubs, etc.

    I would never want a completely fixed schedule but what I have works for me.

  7. Good morning Lauren!

    It is my pleasure to participate in this blogging activity!

    I mentioned developing personal relationships with students in an earlier post, and I think that's key to being able to influence kids' habits. Also, I have LOTS of crazy contests and give away books all year long. I tease the kids and talk to them in the hallways and before/after school. Once I have a relationship, it's easier to get them to read/participate.

    Another trick I use, is to let kids recommend book to other kids. They won't always listen to me but they will listen to their peers. So, if a kid doesn't like my suggestion, I ask another kid to recommend a book.

    There are books that I love for lofty, literary reasons but those aren't always the ones kids want to read. I believe in giving them what they want. For example, I added Swindle to my book list this year because I couldn't keep it on the shelves during last year's spring book fair.

    Sometimes though, you can lead a kid to books but you just can't make him read.

  8. Good morning Kara!

    Would you like my secret? Food and a good book! I made a flyer and promoted the clubs during media time one week. I told them what we were going to read and offered to bring brownies and order pizza if they wanted to pool their lunch money. I didn't offer it to everyone last year as I was trying to figure out what works and doesn't work. Instead, I targeted reluctant readers and just nice kids, not our higher ability kids. Then, the same group of boys met each month. Once the girls found out about the boys club, they wanted one for them. So, I started the Breakfast Book Club. We met once a month before school.

    I am going to start a Recess Reading program for fifth grade this year. I like having clubs with sixth grade because I know the kids better.

    Does that answer your questions? I'm happy to share my things.

    Yes, I do LOTS of collaboration with teachers, really everyone except math teachers. I am creating a novel study using a wiki with a teacher right now. I just finished a Canadian research project where kids created commercials using Flip cameras. Another teacher and I are working on a project where the kids are writing and creating eletronic tall tales. The science teachers all do formal research projects and I am heavily involved with that process. It's really something new each week.

  9. Janette-

    Obviously, being visible and available for your students is important to you. You also seem to do a lot of activities and programs throughout the day and week (book clubs in the AM and during recess, regular class visits in the media center, etc.). How do you balance all of these "out front" activities with more behind-the-scenes work (collection development, program evaluation, etc.)? What is your schedule like in a typical week?


  10. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Dear Ms. Fluharty,
    I enjoyed reading your school website and bio on the eduscapes page. You highlighted the fact that you enjoy reading promotion. That said, does your school participate in the Accelerated Reader program? I ask this because one of the media specialist I interviewed for class said she has a hard time promoting reading if the title is not apart of the Accelerated Reader program. Students feel they do not have time to read a book if they can not earn points for reading the title. What are your feelings about the Accelerated Reading program? Thanks for your time.

    Maureen Barton

  11. Anonymous1:53 PM

    I have a fixed schedule right now and I was wondering how you fit technology in the small amount of time you have with them? Also, are your favorite websites for helping get ideas on promoting reading?

    It sounds like you do a lot! Keep it up! We need more people like to you to promote reading with your enthusiasm.

    Kristi L.

  12. Ms. Fluharty,

    You have said that the hardest part of your job is finding time to fit everything in. Any tips? Anything that you have found that helps with that? I am not currently in a librarian position; however, my job is a lot like that of a librarian. I find it hard to balance the time spent in my office versus my time out on the floor with my "students" (salespeople - I work for a retailer and am in charge of employee education and information systems).

    Do you have anyone else to delegate work to in your media center?

    Also, can you explain a little bit more what your schedule looks like? You say you have a combination of flexible and fixed. How do you do it?


    Carli Worthman

  13. Mandy,

    Good questions. Honestly, sometimes it feels overwhelming. In Avon, media specialists have extended contracts, an extra week at the beginning and end of the year. I use those weeks for program evaluation, collection management, and preparation.

    During the school year, there are times, usually right before and after breaks where I find myself a little less busy so I make good use of that time. I'm a big list maker.

    Also, anything I can delegate to my assistant, a parent helper, or a student helper, I delegate. That leaves me freer to do the things I need to do.

    The rest of the time I just try to chip away at things. I read LOTS of reviews and keep a running book list for each of my book vendors. That way once I receive my budget, I'm ready to place an order.

  14. Maureen,

    During my first year, I used an AR store as a reading incentive. The person who was at East before me used it, so I decided to give it a try. I found the kids were only really excited about reading and earning points in the week before the "store" so they could buy candy.

    My corp. dropped AR because in some cases, AR was being tied to students' grades. My teachers however, wanted a quick, easy way to assess whether students were actually reading their books. So, we purchased Reading Counts. It's just used for reading promotion, isn't graded, and is one of a menu of options students have to prove they've read books.

    Because I have Reading Counts quizzes for my Battle of the Books titles, it supports my overall program. I want the kids reading those books and RC is an easy way to check their reading.

    I wouldn't use Reading Counts or AR in isolation because it does limit what students will read.

  15. Good evening Kristi!

    During weekly lessons, I tend to use technology more as a means to make my lessons interesting and hands-on. My weekly lessons are also a chance to share what we have with teachers and suggest project ideas where I can collaborate to integrate technology into their class projects.

    I use blogs and podcasting with my book clubs.

    On a full, fixed schedule I would probably do a project in stages over the course of several weeks.

    My best sources for ideas include:

    1. I subscribe to several list serves. LM-net is a great one.
    2. I read magazines for ideas.
    3. I visit other media specialist's websites to see what they are doing.

    Hope this helps!

  16. Delegate, delegate, delegate. We have wonderful parents and I make good use of them. They run my book fair, organize my nine weeks celebrations, cover books, shelve, you name it.

    Also, I am blessed with a wonderful assistant and great student helpers. My principal is good about sending subs in to help out if they have a spare minute or two as well.

    My schedule is fixed in that every class comes for a 25 minute lesson each week. I do a short five/ten minute mini-lesson and then help kids find books to check out. The flexible part is that if I am co-teaching, the teachers come and just have check out time for their students instead of a mini-lesson. Does that answer your question?

  17. Hello!
    I'm not familiar with school libraries at all. I was homeschooled as a child and have since only been in a school library because of this class! Are there any sort of formal programs (sort of like public library summer reading clubs) that school libraries normally participate in? Is this a regular thing that most school libraries do or does it depend on things?

    Sarah Rainey

  18. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Dear Ms. Fluharty,

    Thank you for agreeing to blog with us.

    I'm thinking about my school and our efforts to support students who are reading well below grade level and those with behavioral or special education needs. I'm wondering in what ways you are able to collaborate with the special education or counseling staff? Your input is valued and appreciated.

    Jennifer Sigler

  19. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Ms. Fluharty,

    After listening to our media specialist give my 7th graders booktalks every semester, I dread the booktalks. What are your book talks like and how to do you pull in the kids? I also really liked that you had a list of ways to pull kids in. I will be honest I have heard of battle of the books but don't know exactly what it is (I wasn't smart enough in grade school to do it!) and what is the Feed N Read. That just sounds fun!

    Kelly Looper

  20. Janette,
    Could you tell me more about Flip cameras? We are looking into purchasing a couple for a middle school teacher who has students create PSA's. Are the cameras as easy to use as it looks? How is the picture quality?

  21. Anonymous5:44 PM

    Hey Ms. Fluharty,

    Back to the Battle of the Books, how many books are in the booklist, how many teams do you have and how are the teams decided upon (by classes or picked by captains?) Just wondering. The more I hear of Battle of the Books the more I think I would want to try that out when I get the chance.

    Chad Gish

  22. Anonymous5:27 AM

    I'm amazed at what you have accomplished in your first couple of years as a media specialist. Your Media Center page is impressive. Do you maintain it yourself?
    I especially like your online catalog. I've never seen "Destiny Quest". It is so user friendly. I love the visuals (pictures of book covers), in/out, shelf browse and "you may also like" features.
    We are moving to a new Media Center and I would love to get new catalog software / system. We are currently using Winnebago Spectrum .Would this be a huge undertaking or can records be easily transferred? I may have a hard time selling this to the powers that be. However, if I offer to work on it over the summer maybe they'll go for it.

    I also really like your "More than book reports". I have several avid readers who are willing to recommend books and you've given me some great ideas how to present and post reviews. I would disply the flyers alongside the books. A blog would be fun too. I noticed you need a user name and password to get to the "reviews" page. Are these student reviews? How does it work?

    Thanks for taking time to interact with us.

    Donna Price

  23. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Hi Ms. Fluharty,
    I'm finding that school library media specialists wear a variety of "hats" in addition to focusing on traditional slms' activities, depending on their particular school setting. For example, one person has to supervise use of all A/V equipment. What types of responsibilites fall under your position?

  24. Anonymous3:36 PM

    Dear Ms. Fluharty,

    Thank you for answering my questions regarding AR. I plan on checking more into the Reading Counts program that you suggested. One more question about the AR program. Did teachers oppose the idea of eliminating the AR program when you switched to the Reading Counts program? I say this because it was an easy way for them to grade reading and track a student’s status.

    Maureen Barton

  25. Ms. Fluharty-
    Your comments are awesome! It's good to see how what we've been studying is actually used. Since I'm not familiar with this area of libraries, discussion with a "real live professional" is helpful!

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  28. Sarah,

    Good evening!

    I would encourage you to join AIME and participate in the Indiana Young Hoosier Book/Rosie award programs. I think both are good programs. Media specialists in my corp. all participate in those programs in some fashion.

    I guess it might depend where you work. We don't really have any district wide programs, just those that are specific for each school in my district.

  29. Jennifer,

    Oh, good questions!

    To support my below grade level readers, I've been developing my graphic novels and high interest/low reading level collections. Many of my reluctant readers are boys so I've also purchased high interest non-fiction materials that are at a lower reading level to appeal to those kids.

    Some of the kids with behavioral issues have been excellent readers. So with them, I try to make the media center a safe place where they can be praised for their reading habits.

    Our counselor has her own personal "library" shelf that she keeps in her office. It has resources for the kids and also for parents.

  30. Kelly,

    I use lots of props, sound effects in my PowerPoint, and usually give away a book or two. The kids love it when I dress them up. I always make a big deal out of who I'm going to pick. I say, "I need someone who doesn't embarass easily. Are you sure? What do the rest of you think? Is this kid a good choice?" etc. I added a couple pictures of some of the costumes I used this year to my website if you want to check it out.

    Before I begin, I pass out a bookmark with the titles of the books I'm booktalking. Then, as I booktalk them, the kids highlight what they like. When I'm done, I let them check them out and put them on hold immediately. If a kid has read a book I've selected, I have that kid give a quick endorsement.

    I think the key is to have fun with it yourself. Change your voice. Speak and look them right in the eye as you talk.

    Here is some info about Battle of the Books. Skip this if you're not interested.

    What is Battle Of the Books?

    A reading incentive program for AIS East students. The program's purpose is to encourage student reading and to provide a set of books that act as a springboard for library curriculum.

    How does a student participate?

    By reading books from the Battle of the Books list. Every student at East is on a team.

    Students may count BOB books they read in class, books which teachers or parents read to them, and books they have read before. However, they can not count a book that they have only seen on video or as a movie. Students should prove they read and understood the story.

    Where do students get the books?

    Students may find the books in the AIS East Media Center, at the Avon-Washington Township library, at other county libraries, or at local book stores. Titles may also be available in the spring or fall book fair.

    When do students read the books?

    Reading officially starts in the fall after Mrs. Fluharty presents book talks over books on the 08-09 Battle of the Books list and continues until the middle of May.

    What is the "battle"?

    The "battle" is a full day tournament or game, similar to Spell Bowl, Math Bowl, the National Geography Bowl, etc., in which student teams earn points by answering questions about the books on the list. All questions begin with: "In which book..." The day begins with team eliminations in the gymnasium where students receive directions for the day and prizes are awarded for the best outfits, mascot, chant, etc. At the end of the morning competition, there will be two teams to represent each academic team. Competition continues in the afternoon with the 6th Grade Battle of the Books and the 5th Grade Battle of the Books. Once a winning fifth grade and sixth grade team has been determined those teams will compete against each other to see who is the Grand Champion! Teachers of the winning teams will receive a class set of IYHbooks for their classroom libraries.

    What does the student get for participation?

    The knowledge and enjoyment that comes from reading good books and sharing them with friends, teachers and parents, plus a fun day of playing the "battle".

    Winning teams will have their picture taken and displayed at AIS East. Those students will also receive a medal and new book of their choice.

  31. Cindy,

    I love, love, love my FLIP cameras. They are so easy to use and you can drop the video into just about any editing program. We use Microsoft Windows Movie Maker. It's free and easy to use as well. They are perfect for PSAs.

    I think the video and sound quality are very good for the price. The zoom isn't much. Basically to zoom, you move the camera. The ones I have record for an hour.

    I would definitely recommend them.

  32. Chad,

    Hey yourself!

    I have 24 on this year's list. 16 are Indiana Young Hoosier book nominees and 8 are ones I selected.

    There are 5-6 kids on a team so each class has about five teams. Each teacher does it differently. Some let kids form their own teams. Some create teams. Some let the kids pick a friend they want to be with and make sure those two are together.

    You are welcome to come to East in May if you would like to see what it's like on our battle day. It's pretty cool to have a whole gym full of kids yelling and cheering for something related to books.

    One thing I try to do is keep as many kids participating as possible. So, my first round, I pick the top two teams from each classroom. Then, I pick the top two teams from each teaching team. The more kids have a stake in who's participating the more fun it is for them. It would definitely be easier for me if there were fewer teams but less fun for them.

  33. Donna,


    Yes, I maintain my own page and am the school's webmaster. But, School Fusion, our webpage provider, is very easy to use. I really like it.

    Destiny is the only program I've used but I really like it. Cataloging is easy and there are some very nice features. The Destiny Quest interface is new this year. The kids really like it. Being a digital immigrant, I always click back over to the old version, less bells and whistles but more applications.

    I don't really have anything to do with the technical side of Destiny so I can't answer your questions without guessing. If you want more information, I can give you the e-mail address of the media specialist who is our adminstrator for Destiny. She would be able to answer your questions.

    Yes, the reviews can only be viewed by our students after they have logged-in. It's a privacy/safety thing. The kids write a review and the review comes to me. I approve it and then it gets posted. It's a very nice system. Also new this year.

  34. Well, I have a full time assistant to help me but I am responsible for:

    * AV equipment
    * the media retrieval system
    * the new ethernet TV system
    * the morning news
    * purchasing books, media office supplies, periodicals, and media av equipment
    * repairing and maintaining equipment
    * I'm on LOTS of committees, meetings, meetings, and more meetings.
    * inventorying the collections and av equipment
    * weeding the collection
    * what seems like a gabillion bulletin boards and display cases
    * cataloging
    * reading promotion activities
    * scheduling book fairs
    * inter-school loans requests
    * collaborating
    * technology
    * laminating
    * parent volunteers
    * Campbells soup labels
    * box tops
    * making random copies for teachers when they run out
    * webmaster

    I also co-sponsor Student Council and am in charge of the yearbook.

  35. Sarah,

    I'm always happy to help or share ideas!

  36. Maureen,

    Reading Counts is basically the same thing as AR. Just a different company. One feature I really like about RC is that you can retake a quiz if you don't pass. AR doesn't have that option.

    Yes, teachers and many parents were against getting rid of it. I'm sure there were others who were glad but I heard only ones who didn't want to get rid of it.

    Honestly, the kids were sad too. They are busy and being able to prove you read a book by taking a little quiz is much easier than writing a book report. In an ideal world, all books would have quizzes and RC wouldn't limit what they might want to read.

  37. Anonymous10:02 AM


    Yes, you have answered my questions about book clubs and getting them up and running! Food and a good book -- I will keep that in mind. Thank you for sharing your secrets!

    Can I ask about your collaborative project of making electronic tall tales? In my other life (other than a SLIS/school media student) I am also working on a MA in Folklore. I am incredibly interested in what you are doing with tall tales and how that is going. Could you share some more about that particular project -- how have you gone about planning that collaboration and what is your role as media specialist in it? Is this project with a teacher that you have collaborated with before?


  38. Hi Janette,

    I see from other answers you're in charge of AV equipment. If I'm honest, I think AV equipment is one of the things I have the most apprehension about. I'm comfortable with computers, but I don't have much experience with anything else.

    Did you learn the AV equipment yourself? Any tips for dealing with AV equipment? I realize this is a loaded question and you may not really be able to answer it fully, but I thought I'd ask anyway! :)

    Lauren Wiley

  39. Anonymous11:19 AM


    How often do you have events in your LMC? What is realistic?

    Also. how often do you evaluate circ records and how do they guide your program development? Do you share your findings with others? If yes, who? and how?

    Thanks for all your great tips.

    Donna Price

  40. Jennifer12:11 PM

    Ms. Fluharty,
    Hi! I was wondering how you promoted summer reading at your school? I saw where you were blogging with students about it. I have spent some time working in the public library and we would make school visits to promote our summer reading program. Do you have something of your own or do you back the public library's reading program?
    Also, you mentioned you have a combination of fixed and flexible scheduling. Do you feel one works better in one school setting versus another school setting? For example, elementary and middle schools.

  41. Kara,

    The eletronic tall tale project is a work in progress. I would be happy to share our final project when it's finished if you want to e-mail me. My e-mail address is located on my website.

    The teacher and I are still figuring everything out. Basically, I am introducing the unit and teaching a mini-lesson on what a tall tale is. He will take the lead on the writing portion of the project. I will take the lead for the actual creation of the electronic version of their tall tales.

    I have worked with this teacher before but on smaller projects. This will be our first big endeavour.

  42. Lauren,

    I didn't know much about the equipment either but if you can work with computers, you can learn the AV stuff. It's not difficult. All our repairs are sent out so I don't do anything with that. I mostly check it out, clean it, and replace overhead bulbs. Hopefully you will find others will to help you with this part of the job. That was what I found to be most helpful when it comes to AV stuff.

  43. Donna,

    I'm not sure what you mean by events. Just my things or things I'm doing with others?
    In the spring, my book clubs will meet once a month. I have an end of the nine weeks celebration four times a year but that's not always in the media center. I have a spring and fall book fair. We hope to host an author in the spring. There are many other events but I'm not sure what you are asking about.

    Always start out small and figure things out. Last year I had two book clubs. This year, I'm expanding to three for boys and three for girls since I've kind of figured out what works and doesn't work for me.

    I use the circulation records to assist me in weeding and maintaining the collection. The information is also helpful for my end of the year report.

  44. Jennifer,

    I haven't really done anything with that yet. I hand out my Battle of the Books list to kids before summer vacation so they can get a head start, and I always have the public library in to share about their summer reading program. It's actually something I've been pondering for next summer. I think I am going to do some sort of a program but I haven't really figured it out yet. Any ideas?

    I really think it's important for kids to visit the media center on a weekly basis, just to make sure they are being given the chance to check out books. Plus, seeing the teachers each week gives me a chance to talk with them, find out what they're doing, and ask if I can help. I think this is true of all levels.

    Flexibility within the fixed schedule is key for me. If I were required to do the mini-lessons each week and didn't have the freedom to work with teachers, I would be very unhappy and so would my teachers. I think that's true of any age level.

  45. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Thanks for your comments. It was nice e-chatting with you.

    Chad Gish

  46. Jennifer6:37 PM

    Ms. Fluharty,
    You asked for some ideas, so I have one for you. Since I am not a SLMS yet, I thought I'd tell you about something I was thinking of doing someday when I am one. We have several area festivals where I live. So, I thought it would be neat to have summer programs revolving around them. In August, there is a Blueberry Festival, so I thought a program could be done in late July to promote that. Then there is the Popcorn Festival in September, so sometime before school starts I would do a program revolving around popcorn and that year's theme. So, anyway, I hope that helps!