Each year, a new group of 9th graders arrive at my high school for the first time. Not only do they need to learn where the library is in the building, but they also need to learn how the school library functions. When you think of all the things you want students to know about the school library and library staff, it can seem like a lot of information to cover.
How do I cover so much information in a short amount of time? How do I engage students in learning about the school library and how we can help them?
Goals for the school library orientation
5. Layout of the school library (printers, book drop, etc.)
4. Location of library staff when needing help (and our names)
3. How to use the space with a class, before/after school, and with a pass
2. Actively engage students as they learn about the library
1. Welcome! Let learners know we are glad they are here! Say it more than once. Show it.
We work with our English Language Arts teachers to schedule a time the first week of school. In lieu of a presentation, we created a QR Code Walk with stations throughout the school library. Students scan the QR Code and complete the activity. The QR Code goes to a Google Doc that I can edit each year (or when I realize I need to change it last minute before class).
Goal: Locate the maker/supply area and what supplies are provided for them to use.
Activity: In the makerspace/supply area, students are asked to create a specific design with 8 legos.
Goal: Locate where the paper comes out of the printer. (It isn’t easy to find.)
Activity: Place a hidden paper heart in the area of the paper retrieval. Students have to find the heart and provide a description of the heart.
Goal: Students find the reading alcove and how it can be a great place to study and read.
Activity: Place several hearts around the space. Students must find a specific heart that has a message. Message on the heart: We are so glad you are here! You are important to us and we can’t wait to get to know you.
Goal: Learn the names of the library staff and how to find them when needed.
Activity: We purchased cardboard cut-outs of the library staff that tells students where we are located during the school day. We use the cut-outs for this activity for students to find. One the cardboard cut-out lists our names and information about finding us.
We typically have a total of 12 stations each with a different activity. For teachers that request it, students complete a handout that goes along with the stations.
Although we may not cover everything, we recognize that the students have four years with us and we are fortunate to see the students with their classes in the next few weeks with different activities. If students walk away feeling they are welcome in the library and that the library staff is approachable, then the activity was a success.
What creative ways do you provide student with an orientation to the school library? Please share in the comments.
Author: Becca Munson
Becca Munson, Librarian, is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 24 years of experience in education. Becca is the Coordinator for Library Systems in the Blue Valley School District. Previously, she was school librarian at Blue Valley West High School. She opened two buildings in Blue Valley and spent some time as an Ed Tech Specialist before returning to libraries. Becca supports over 45 librarians and support staff as they work to fulfill the mission of flexible scheduling, collaboration, and literacy.