.MIddle school is hard. I do not know anyone who longs to turn back time and relive being 13 or 14 years old -- wanting to be your own person while blending in with the crowd, desperately trying to gain entrance to the adult world while holding on to childhood - all while rivers of hormones are coursing through your ever-changing body. It's a scary time and navigating it can be brutal.
I've told many students that "this too shall pass", that they will grow up, move on, and this period in their life will be but a blip on the timeline. They often shake their heads, convinced that I just do not understand. A few weeks ago I found a visual to show them that I do.
I was flying across they country to visit my oldest child. It was a fairly long plane ride and I passed some of the time looking out the window.
The view was beautiful and I loved the shadows of the clouds on the ground. It's funny that when we're on the ground the clouds that drift across the sun appear so large and it seems that it will take forever for them to pass and the sun to shine again. The view from the plane put it in a different perspective. From this side the clouds are small, and though they are littered all over the sky - the areas of sunlight are much greater.
What a great metaphor for my students. Life has cloud shadows. There are times when life seems dark and it feels as though things will not change, but invariably the clouds will pass and sunlight will be on the other side. You just have to be patient and get through.
As a teacher librarian I'm constantly seeking out new offerings for my students and as a member of a state book award committee, I have committed to reading what is on our consideration list. So other than my yearly re-read of Pride and Prejudice, or the odd re-reading of another favorite, I find that I don't have time to re-read books. I also tend to discourage my students from re-reading books. I have a variety of reasons I do this: a) they want to re-read because it's easier and I want them to challenge themselves as readers, b) they want to re-read because they know they will like a book and I want them to find others they'll enjoy, c) I suspect they're taking the easy way out for assignments. All rational, considered reasons. There is a world of amazing literature out there for middle grade readers and I want my students to experience what it has to offer.
However, this summer I've had a bit of an epiphany about re-reading books. I've had a few stressful situations crop up, as is wont to happen in real life, and although I have shelves of shiny new books with creative titles and fabulous covers, there are some days I don't want to read them.
What I want is the macaroni and cheese of my bookshelf - something comfortable and familiar, something that doesn't require me to stretch when I'm already stretched, something that won't rock my world when it is already a bit off kilter, something that will quiet my noisy mind and heart, and... make me laugh.
Perhaps my students are looking for something in the same vein, something that will take them away from whatever is troubling them and allow them to live somewhere else for a bit. This August, when we go back to school, I will still encourage my readers to try something new, but will also not discourage them from reaching for the familiar.
One of my big takeaways from ISTE is the desire to create a makerspace in my media center. I've done some reading on what constitutes a makerspace, how to work with limited space and budget, how to create time for students to utilize it, etc. I've also been scouring my Twitter feed for information on how other folks are implenting makerspaces in their libraries. This morning I was stopped by a Tweet from @mmooresjc about her blog posts on SAMR and Makerspaces.
I have yet to read about her makerspace because the SAMR post stopped me cold. Megan Moore organized her lessons in an infographic to show how they related to the SAMR model. Genius! Her graphic communicated SAMR implementation to me in a way that helped take my understanding of it to the next level. I also had a couple of "A-ha moments" as I processed her blog post.
"A-ha" moment #1 was that I need to remember that I am a visual learner and should actively look to gather information of a graphic nature to better my own understanding. Sometimes I forget that learning styles are not just for students. I am a reader, and tend to gather information through books, articles, etc., but in truth I learn best visually. If I were planning a lesson for my students, I would include graphics to help explain what I am teaching, so why not do it for myself?
'A-ha" moment #2, was that I should create a planning template so that I can better understand how the activities I plan relate to the SAMR model. I'm sharing my creation below, with a download link beneath. Thank you Megan Moore for the inspiration!
On warm, sunny days, this is the view from where I read.
My next thought was: I wonder if putting kids in surroundings like this would make reading more enjoyable to them?
As a librarian in a school setting, I work with all of our children. Some of them love to read, others tolerate it, and some actively dislike it. I know that there are many things that factor into this - reading ability, finding a book of interest, appearing "cool" to peers are just a few. But could part of this be the environment?
When I read, most often I find a quiet, comfortable space to slouch into with my feet up and a cup of coffee or tea by my side. Creature comfort = pleasant reading time.
After check out in my media center, if they're lucky, students can snag one of the spots on my middle-aged (ca. 1974) couches or a padded bench; otherwise they sit at tables, completely upright in wooden chairs (that they may not tip back). Not quite the same experience.
Would I help students enjoy reading more if I created a more relaxed environment in which they could read?
Budget and physical space constraints hinder my creating anything too extravagant, but working with the means available to me, I think I will try to effect some change. I've been hoarding Scholastic Dollars from my book fairs over the years and have amassed a small nest egg. I've ordered some comfy chairs and pre-ordered some beanbag chairs. My reading space is small, but by making the seating flexible and comfortable I hope that I've begun to create an atmosphere more conducive to reading for enjoyment. Time will tell.
Does anyone have ideas on how to create comfortable, inviting reading spaces within limited means? If so, please share them in the comments.
I've been sitting on my porch the past few days, catching up on some reading I need to do. The porch is shady, peaceful (the breeze through the trees and chirping birds are the main source of sound), and my four-legged reading companion is content to hang out with me all day. I've finished four books thus far. As I got up to go inside to grab the next book, I looked around thought about how conducive this environment is to truly enjoying reading.
When my children were small they had toys with many, many pieces, sporting equipment, school papers, and what felt like 8 billion socks I imagined that when they were grown my house would be organized and tidy.
As the parent of mostly grown children who move from campus to home to job to campus to … (you get the idea), my house has actually become more cluttered. It is the repository for the flotsam and jetsam with which said children are not ready to part, though they are on to the next stage/pursuit/residence. Textbooks, notebooks, dressers, beds, kitchenware, multitudes of t-shirts - items whose size and volume make Legos and Barbies pale in comparison.
I sigh with a crooked smile. It’s moderately stressful, but I remind myself that this too shall pass, and in the meantime I’ve resigned myself to living amidst a slightly eclectic clutter.
The bright side of this is that I can tidy my digital household and organize it to my heart’s delight.
My teacher resource Pinterest board has just undergone one of these cleanings. It’s so easy to make a general board and stick a wide variety of sites that fall into that category in one place. The problem with this is that when I go to locate a certain item, the plethora of pins makes locating anything a time-sucking endeavor.
So today I did a little housecleaning. I created boards targeting specific topics and scrolled through my original boards, moving pins as needed. I also deleted some pins that had expired links – no digital hoarding here.
This afternoon as I gaze across the kitchen and family room – coated with the detritus of a successful “big family” Fourth of July weekend – I can bask in the knowledge that I’ve cleaned my Pinterest house and it’s ready for visitors.
Feel free to visit my newly tidied teacher resource Pinterest here: https://www.pinterest.com/booksbytesblog/
As a teacher librarian in a 6-8 middle school, when I'm not dreaming up all sorts of tactics to get books into my students' hands, I am seeking new ways to harness technology to help them learn.
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