The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian

The Absolutely True Adventures of a School Librarian

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hey! Listen To This!

I am so excited that I get to add a brand new name to my "Influential Administrators" list; Dr. Donna Brady.

After retiring from Alabama after 25 years of service I thought that working in schools was behind me.  Luckily, Dr. Brady came into my life and I am back working in an elementary school library and having the time of my life!

One thing I noticed right away was that my new school was filled with positive energy.  I feel that this stems directly from the leadership of Dr. Brady.  Dr. Brady starts each staff meeting with, "Hey, Listen To This!"  During this time staff members can share anything they want with the rest of the staff from something amazing a student did, to sending their child off to college, or announcing a pregnancy.  The point is to let staff share personal joys, heartbreaks, challenges, successes and more. This helps to build a community that supports, weeps, and celebrates together.  

As a supporter of empowering student voice, I stole this idea from Dr. Brady and now use it at the beginning of each library class before we do anything else. The kids love having this time to share and be heard, especially since so much of their time in school is spent listening to an adult.

So far my students have shared about their family vacations, about their grandparents visiting, the arrival or upcoming arrival of a new brother or sister, getting braces, the wart they are getting removed, their upcoming sports event, and so much more!

It's exciting to see their faces light up while they share.  I also love that this time helps me to get to know the close to 700 students that I see each week better.  

I must have talked about "Hey, Listen To This" a bunch at home because my wife and principal in San Antonio, Angie Griffin, recently started using it with her staff. It was fun for them to share their successes and stresses and to be there for each other.

"Hey, Listen To This" is a simple yet powerful community building exercise that you can start doing at your school right away.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shared On Social Media: Genrefied Libraries-HELP!

While surfing social media sites I come across great posts with equally insightful comments. Unfortunately, trying to locate these posts in the stream months later is often an impossible task. Thus, in lieu of waiting for the original poster to blog their thoughts, I am starting a series here entitled "Shared On Social Media" so that I can find the information I found useful later. All credit will be given to the original poster and commenters. None of these posts are my original thoughts.

Changing from Dewey to Genre shelving is happening in school libraries across the country in all grade levels more and more as librarians listen to and honor student voice.  Making this change isn't easy but is well worth your time and energy.

Recently Stacie Whitlock posted the message, "Genrefied libraries-please share pics of your signage! Need ideas!" in the Future Ready Librarians Facebook Group.  Luckily, social media now allows us to connect, share, learn and grow together as school librarians and Stacie received great advice from librarians across the country.

Shannon Miller shared how you can use Buncee to create genre labels and signage in her blog post,
Create Your Library Branding, Signage, Promotions & More With Buncee!:

B Mann shared her simple signage and added this great picture of signage her students created completely on their own! I absolutely LOVE this!

Angela Rosheim shared her breathtaking handmade foam signage with the group. I wonder if she would make some for me! LOL!:

Wendy Cope shared her blog post, Why Genrefy?

Cristi Caroline created these masterpieces using PicMonkey! Cristi is also willing to SHARE here awesome creations with the rest of us! YAY! Thank you Cristi!

Amanda Nored Counts shared these great signs AND she is also willing to share her files with others! Our community of school librarians is AMAZING!

Kelsey Erin I created her genre shelving signage in She generously shared her signs with the Facebook group.

Alison Terry Kirkpatrick used a free app called Phoetic. Not only did she share an image of her signage, Alison also provided a link to her Google Files for more signage! YAY! 

Kim Ferretti Keith shared her genre signage even though her shelves are quite bare due to summer book check out. This lead to a completely new discussion in the Facebook thread.

Rachel Grover also shared her Google Files for the genre signage she has created.

Alexis Arts made her genre signage in PowerPoint:

Linda Waskow uses Destiny's Visual Search images for labels and corresponding signage:

Kaitlyn Price uses wooden letters on bases from for her genre signage:

Fran Glick provided a link to a great source of information for "Un-Deweying a School Library".

Cynthia Stogdill used transparent color stickers to indicate genre while still maintaining a Dewey based arrangement:

Leeann Denham's site has a video on how she genrefied with pics plus all the files used to print them. Find it through the first link (How to Genre-fy) on .

I was lucky enough to get to genrefy my high school library two years ago.  I highly relied on blog posts by Tiffany Whitehead to guide me in my journey.  I also created a Pinterest Board for Genre Shelving.

What other ideas can you share about Genre Shelving and Signage?  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shared On Social Media: LET MY PEOPLE READ!

While surfing social media sites I come across great posts with equally insightful comments. Unfortunately, trying to locate these posts in the stream months later is often an impossible task. Thus, in lieu of waiting for the original poster to blog their thoughts, I am starting a series here entitled "Shared On Social Media" so that I can find the information I found useful later. All credit will be given to the original poster and commenters. None of these posts are my original thoughts.

Posted to the Future Ready Librarians Facebook Group on June 9, 2017 by Sherry Gick who reposted it from Kurt Stroh.

Good friend's status (Kurt Stroh) this evening: SUCH TRUTH!!! 📚

"I've been reading posts in a FB group tonight where librarians (many) have been sharing all the rewards they give to students who earn AR points. Picnics, bounce-houses, pizza parties, dance parties with a DJ, limo rides, shopping sprees....UGH!

STOP incentivizing reading. STOP limiting reading to levels. STOP making kids take tests on everything they read. This is NOT going to create fact, it will, in the end, create kids who hate to read, who will become adults who don't read.

Let kids read what they want to read. Celebrate their reading choices. Talk to them about what they're reading. Share your reading life with them. THIS is how to create readers!
(getting off my soapbox...)"

As another friend says (thanks Donalyn!): LET MY PEOPLE READ!!!


Katie Bradford Have you ever read the book "Readicide" by Kelly Gallagher? This is EXACTLY what he talks about. Such a great read!

Kate Zabala Gave a "chapter book" to my 2nd grader nephew about Mount Rushmore after we took a family trip there last summer. Asked if he read it and his first response was, "the AR tests for that book series are really hard to pass."

Julie Elmore Had an 8th grader say, "ya know Ms. Julie the teens aren't coming here because none of us want to read. Reading just equals more tests." How do you even break that attitude....

Michelle Hurley Simpson One of the points that keeps coming up that frustrates me to no end is from the people say the kids enjoy the quizzes. Yes, young children who are good readers often do enjoy taking the quiz and scoring well. However, those kids would enjoy reading without the quiz! It is easy to get young kids to get excited about reading! It's the kids who are being enticed to read by the quizzes and the rewards that is the problem. One day those go away, usually in middle or high school. At that point, after years of a false association between reading and quizzes or rewards, it is very hard to convince people who read for rewards that they are now to read for nothing.

Trisha Schmidt Best We parents at Pinewood are so lucky to have you. I'm beyond excited that still have 4 more years with you. You've been a fabulous resource this year helping keep not just my middle schooler but my elementary son in books (his librarian retired and they couldn't find a replacement). I'd have been lost without you this year. Thank you for caring and thank you for sharing your love of reading and NOT having a pizza party for reading X number of books this year.

Tamara McGraw Houde I would much rather see kids doing things like book clubs where they can share whatever book they are reading, the things about it they like, and the things they don't. When I worked at our library, they ran that sort of book discussion group and several of the teens wound up picking up books that another member had discussed. They read what they wanted to, enjoy the socialization, and expanded some of their reading choices.

Donalyn Miller Why would we create a culture of reading winners and reading losers at a school? Reading is its own reward!

Donalyn Miller Share this far and wide. I know how frustrating it is to have these conversations, but all we can do is be collegial and share what we know. At some point, ignorance becomes a willful choice. You can't unknow what you know--you have to CHOOSE to ignore it. We celebrate free choice and sometimes that means folks don't make good choices. The sad part of this scenario is that children and their reading lives pay the price.
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Becky Calzada This is the summer professional read for all the librarians in my district.

Emily Garcia I'm in that group and loved what you said so I thought I'd creep over to your page since you are way more interesting. I'm glad I did because THIS thread is much more inspiring. I loved what you said about future-ready too. I think AR is lazy and the crazy thing is that people bend over backwards to create and manage a reward system for all that laziness. All they really need to do is be present and have a conversation with kids about books...and MAYBE manage the kids having conversations with each other. I guess they'd also have to read some of those books so maybe that's part of the problem... Thanks for letting me chime in.

Dawn Zaikowski Kennedy As a parent and as a paraeducator I appreciate your soap box. I have always been frustrated with AR quizzes and the need to use it for reading. My older boys did have their love for reading wounded because of nit picky quizzes.

Cheryl Brandmeir My kids reads to earn extra reading time! He hates the stupid little prizes and told his teacher they were dumb and he didn't care about them ...all he wanted was more reading time or to go to the library an extra time during the week