FAME is the acronym for the Florida Association for Media in Education. It is the professional association for Florida school librarians and media educators. Their latest conference featured inspirational speakers and presenters. They impressed me with revolutionary ideas and successful stories. Here are 5 tips from the conference you may want to try.
Tip 1: Make a Big Deal about the State Book Awards
The ceremony for the state book awards was awesome. Learners presented the winners with the awards. They gave moving speeches about how the winning books changed their lives. Then, they shook the hands of the book’s creator. It was a poignant ceremony. Later, the winners explained how their books evolved, from idea to final product.
Tip 2: Get Feedback from Learners
If you want honest feedback about your school library, ask learners for recommendations. That’s what Michelle Lindsey did. Lindsey is the media teacher for a PreK-5 school in Volusia County. She invited groups of learners from each grade level to have lunch with her. Lindsey polled the group. She asked them what they liked and didn’t like about the school library. Here are the biggest takeaways from her survey:
Learners loved listening to stories and discovering new books. They enjoyed the activities in the library.
Learners wanted more visits to the library. They also didn’t know how to find books with the Dewey Decimal System. Finding books on their own was difficult.
Lindsey reorganized her collection. The fiction books are now categorized by genre. She also added more storytime/book checkout visits to her flexible schedule.
The results of her efforts are noticeable. Circulation is up and learners have an easier time finding books that are sorted by genre. Learners realized their recommendations prompted these changes. Their voices made an impact.
Tip 3: Reconsider Book Return Policy
You may know Jennifer LaGarde as Library Girl. She was the closing speaker for the FAME conference. She asked the audience to consider how many learners leave the school library without a book in their hands. Are they leaving empty handed because they didn’t return a book? If that’s the case, we need to think about the core values of the library. We want our learners to love reading as much as we do. LaGarde asked us to look at how many learners could not check out a book last year. Consider an acceptable number for this year. She hopes it will be zero. Read more of LaGarde’s insights in her “A Back to School Challenge” blog post.
Elizabeth Kyser, a blogger for Knowledge Quest, wrote about overdue books. Read her post “Overdue Thoughts on Lost Book Fees” and discover her policy. Check out the comments from other school librarians. Add to the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comment box.
Tip 4: StoryCorps
StoryCorps is a free platform that shares audio clips of meaningful conversations. Typically, two people produce the content. They ask each other thought-provoking questions and provide contemplative answers. All recordings are archived at the Library of Congress. Many of these stories will bring tears to your eyes. Grab a box of tissues before listening to a StoryCorps audio clip.
Sara Ratliff is the school librarian at Warrington Middle School in Pensacola. She loves StoryCorps. Ratliff discovered that learners, ages 13 and older, can produce an audio clip for StoryCorps. Knowing this would improve their communication skills, she began a StoryCorps project in her library. She used the resources on the StoryCorps website to guide her lessons. She also produced her own audio clip.
This is what she learned from her experience:
- Send home permission slips. Ask all participants to sign the slips with parents. Personal information is required.
- Practice with learners before recording. The art of communication is a process. Learners will ask questions, listen to responses, and build on the conversation.
- Prepare many questions ahead of time.
See Ratliff’s FAME presentation for information on how to start StoryCorps in your library.
Tip 5: Crosswalks
If you follow the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) on social media, then you already know that crosswalks are available. There is a crosswalk for the Future Ready Framework and the ISTE Standards for Learners and Educators. Kathryn Roots Lewis, the AASL President, shared news about an upcoming crosswalk. Soon we will see how the National School Library Standards connect with the Next Generation Science Standards. This timely document will provide school librarians with a way to support classroom educators.
Please share tips from your state conference in the comment box below. If you are reluctant to attend your state conference, read “3 Reasons Why You Need to Attend Your State Conference” by Diana Rendina, an author and school librarian in Tampa.