Thursday, May 23, 2013

28 Books, 5 Movies, 12 Bus Transfers: One Unbeatable Afternoon

We took a hit before we even left the building: we were down two kids, one to acute nerves (this is totally different than anything we had done) and one to a double header of Sports Day vomiting. 

That brought the total to 9 kids, 3 adults and 4 hours in front of us, and then the bus was late. More than a few minutes late. if there had not been another passenger waiting with us I would have moved to panic mode. As in, these kids think we are heading to the library but we missed our bus and we will be in the lobby calling parents soon. My principal was with us, THAT's not good for your job when your planned trip falls apart in the first 10 minutes. Thankfully I didn't go to that dark place out loud and the city bus swooped by and we had everyone loaded before I could stress about missing our connection. Those are the moments you wonder what in the world were you thinking, hoping everything comes together just right.

It turns out everything DID come together just right and we had a blast! Ice cream in a parking lot is always the best way to start an outing. Hopping on the bus was new and fun for 10 of us.

Library cards turned up through the week and we walked through the doors with all but 2 kids able to check out books. Amazing success rate when just a week ago I had one library card to spread among our 10 kids. Our Public Library underwent a massive renovation last summer and most of our kids had not been in the meanwhile. So the ooohh and aaahhhhh factor was totally there as we entered and that was so much fun to see their reactions.

As they settled down and really got into the shelves the magic happened for me. We were able to hit their favorite authors and series and these kids who have read almost all we have at school GOT IT. They saw first hand that scary books surrounded them, we could find those funny zombie books and that all 14+ Big Nate books were on the shelf. Gratification was seeing these kids get lost in the possibilities they saw. And then take that next step and realize they could take part and get what they wanted. Watching the kids pour over the age appropriate movies was another fun highlight.

Whittling the piles was another step in the fun. Bringing a roomy backpack was the best decision I made and that (seriously, ok) heavy backpack didn't bother me one bit as we headed back the 8 blocks for the bus. Time will tell if these kids remember the Public Library as a resource for them and the best way to access the world outside of Loveland. The adults involved have already mentioned going again and this is absolutely something I want to add to our year. Because if I look at just the numbers, this was a homerun. We got books into the hands of kids who are not frequent Library visitors and we shared a way for them to participate in that. Total cost, $4.50 for bus fare round trip and $9.00 for ice cream. Talk about time and money well spent.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer Reading Essentials Part 2

I have been really looking at the way we present Summer Reading Resources to families. Based on our fall literacy testing numbers and the Public Library Participation rates for our school, the "letters" I send home with the lists of resources have not been cutting it in past years. That is one of the driving forces behind our Field Trip this Wednesday (so excited, will update).

Anyhow, I have been messing around with some infographs this past week. I love piktograph but the way it prints is not good for sending home (and we are no where near an electronic folder). I decided to mess around with prezi since I love the templates they have added. Last week I came up with the original Summer Reading Essentials but didn't love it. Too cluttered. I got back to it this morning and prefer the simple lay out of take 2. Saving the prezi as a PDF is a breeze too, a snap for printing and posting in newsletters and online.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3 Women, Public Transportation: Watch Out Library, Here We Come!


As I have mentioned before, our school is a high poverty building. We are weirdly located in relation to town libraries and used bookstores. Not all of our parents have transportation (reliable or otherwise) or consider an afternoon at the library time well spent.

Inching closer to summer, I am just EXHAUSTED looking into kids' faces and asking when they will pick up the next book in their series. I physically do not want to see the look of confusion that takes over. The LIBRARY, the LIBRARY is what I really want to shout.

Each year when the summer reading numbers come back from the public library we are at the very bottom. I am talking less than 10-20 families using the summer reading resources our town offers (which are really vast,

Have I been clear? Have I complained enough? Yes, even for me.

This is what we are doing: I called the Risk Management Department of our District (never thought I would call them from the library, that is for sure!) To my complete shock, they approved us taking a group of kids on the CITY BUS to the Public Library!!!!! I simply could not afford nor justify paying for school buses to go 12 blocks. Unfortunately, our path crosses major highway type roads so walking is not an option.

So I grabbed 10 of my "readers" who really love reading and go through 2-3 books a week. These are the kids that WILL read during the summer but do not have that resource. I know they do not go to the public library.

Our school secretary pulled the bus schedule and we mapped our route (SO many thanks, Tammy!) She and I asked our principal to join us, and it became official:

We will accompany about 10 of our kids to the public library next week using the city bus. We will have  layover, snacks, walking and another layover included.

I have been contacting parents this week to have them do the footwork and get the kids library cards before our trip. I am optimistic about the response but nervous about follow through.

The response from the kids has been AAAA-mazing! our list has grown and the excitement is building for sure. I can't wait to report how it goes. My biggest hope for this time is that the kids will SEE and REALIZE that the resources in our town are for them and that we can find a way to access that.