Let’s face it, end-of-school year materials collection does not rank high among the reasons we went into this profession.
Why highlight this process school-wide then?
There are some ways we can turn a tiresome task into a real-life example of how professionals use data to inform decision-making. Making our process visible creates opportunity for everyone for a variety of desired outcomes:
- Draws attention to the materials collection process and hopefully increases returns
- Models critical thinking and decision-making based on actual outcomes
- Emphasizes economic impact of return rates
- Highlights the budget process
- Exemplifies the use of graphics as tools to showcase processes and metacognition
Highlighting Your Materials Collection
When highlighting this process with the school, consider the following questions in your plan:
- Will you share the total number of materials checked out? How often will you update the number?
- What about a rough value of the materials missing? For many, this number might be easier to understand when used in a comparison, like the price of a new car or X number of gaming systems! Will you compare the missing materials number to the overall yearly budget? Could you print pictures of some missing materials and include a “price tag” so students associate value to these items?
- In elementary schools, will you share statistics from classrooms to create more of a competitive flair? Will there be a reward with the class with the highest percentage of returned materials? If so, be sure to choose a reward related to literacy, since research tells us reading-related rewards produce more intrinsic reading.
- How will you and your students know if you’re successful? What will happen as a result if you fall short of your goals? Be specific with this part. Will there only be one copy of the latest Dog Man book? Fewer supplies in the makerspace? By understanding the budget constraints, you’ll be doing students a favor long after they leave your building.
As the school year ends, consider creating and sharing:
- routines to keep students informed of returns, maybe you’ll spend the last 10 minutes of each work day updating information
- formats to display the information, whether online, in newsletters, or a physical display. If you’re creating a display, Pinterest has many end-of-year library boards, many of which are simple! Think about ALL the ways your district communicates: outdoor signage, social media, or word-of-mouth in the car pick-up line!
- interest around the topic by chatting with students and staff about your project.
- reminders in various forms to help students and staff return materials, like a list of places to search for items, notes to parents, or post-it notes on student desks! I’ve even been known to print off memes about book collection and place them in the bathroom stalls.
After school officially closes, evaluate:
- What were the outcomes of this public display of data? Were you more successful this year than others?
- Did students make comments or observations about the process?
- What changes would you make to this process in future years? Was it worth the effort?
- Take pictures of your process to document for communication, yearly reports, and to help you remember for next year!
Author: Renee Bowman
Renee Bowman is the co-creator of the blog for parents and caregivers Raising Real Readers. She’s twice been a teacher of the year for her district and was awarded the 2019 Samuel F. Hulbert Educator of the Year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She will complete her school librarian certification from IUPUI in May. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @RaisingRealReaders or on Twitter @RaisingReal.