A REAL LIBRARY LIONESS!!
Welcome to Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest Kathy Pazaski!
Our school is located in Sammamish which is a suburb east of Seattle. We currently have almost 500 students but next year sixth graders move to middle school so our enrollment will be about 370 students. I will miss sixth graders since their reading preferences are often more advanced than younger students and being a former 6thgrade teacher I have a fondness for their curriculum. I love to spend time with my family, read, travel, walk my dog and explore new technologies. This year I created a blog which has a picture of me touching a real lion in Zimbabwe. (This is one of the coolest and most dangerous things I have ever done!)
Note from blog host: This makes you a real Library Lioness, Kathy!
It is always fun to see a student’s “light bulb” turn on! Recently, first graders were completing a class book about baby animals. When deciding on the title for their book the question of what makes something a mammal came up. I told the class that mammals have fur or hair, have live births – not from eggs, and they drink their mother’s milk. One of the first graders commented that people are mammals. A boy then raised his hand and said that we couldn’t be mammals because we don’t drink milk from our mothers. The girl sitting next to him said, “Yes we are, you know, boobies, that’s what they are for!” The boy’s jaw dropped and the “light bulb” came on!
The project included many library, technology and writing standards. The students improved their research, technology, cooperation, and time management skills and they were totally engaged in learning about an endangered species of their choice. I think this is a great example of how library instruction really can impact students’ educations. We are so limited in the time that we have with them but we can make a big difference!
The third grade teachers were reading a story with their classes about Pufflings, in Iceland, and they wondered if I would be willing to tell the students a bit about Iceland.
Of course, as a librarian, learner and avid traveler, I jumped at the opportunity to share my experiences and new found knowledge about Iceland with the students. They had great questions about geology, geography, sociology, biology, etc. However, with my limited experiences I couldn’t answer all of the students’ questions. So, I set up an opportunity for the students to blog with a boy in Iceland, who is about the same age as my third graders named Gunnar.
“You know lots about books, cameras, and technology. We check out books and learn something new every time!” Mitchell, Grade 5
“You are one of the most helpful people in the school. You’re always helping kids inside and outside of class with problems, especially finding books. You also are one of the kindest people I know.” Ivan, Grade 5
“You give reading a whole new meaning, from your fun and positive websites to your fun activities. You really do give reading a purpose.” Josh, Grade 5
“You are the best librarian in the whole world! I love how at the beginning we read books and then we get to check them out.” Emily, Grade 3
“I found learning about how to use the library system and genres the most meaningful. I also learned how to look through the library to find a book off of a call number. One of my favorite books this was the One and Only Ivan. I found it very interesting and I am glad that it was brought into the library.” Anna, Grade 6
The Hunger Games science fiction series has been impossible to keep on the shelves with a continual list of students with hold requests. Of course, the movie increased the interest in the books but even before the film many students were hearing about the books from friends, siblings and adults and wanted to read them. The “survivor” aspect reminded students of the TV show and made the game aspect of the plot appealing. Students wanted to keep reading to find out about the next challenge. Older students and adults gathered more social and political meaning from the books which make the stories good for family or classroom reading and discussions.
Great author visits combine information about the writing process that students can apply to their own writing, specific interesting details about the author’s books that readers don’t know from reading their books or getting the inside scoop. Topics that students can relate to tend to grab the attention of the audience; humor always adds interest. Students like to hear about how authors get their ideas, how they organize their ideas, what it is like to be an author and how they get published.
Teachers like to hear about the need for revising, editing, and writing about something that you know. Interactive presentations keep students focused and visual information is helpful to keep students listening. This year we had author and storyteller Margaret Read MacDonald visit our school.
When you invited author Janet Lee Carey to visit Blackwell, I was thrilled at the opportunity it would present my students. Twelve years ago, I bought her newly released book, Molly’s Fire, at a signing event in Kirkland. I stood in line with everyone else there so she’d sign my copy and asked that she personalize it to my students. I’ve read the book and its inscription aloud to every class I’ve had since then.
Your effort to connect authors with students has a lasting effect on the lives of students. One such story begins last year when one of my kids asked, “What IS Molly’s fire?” It was a brilliant question that usually doesn’t come up until the end of the story, so we started making a list of ideas as they occurred to us during read-aloud. By the time the book ended, our list had almost 20 references to fire; some real, others implied and still others metaphorical in nature. I was so proud of the students’ work that I left the list posted in our classroom long after we finished the book.
Then, we got word that Janet Lee Carey was coming to Blackwell. My class wondered if we could share our list of ideas with her. They wanted to hear from the author herself if they’d interpreted her text in the way she intended. On the day of her visit, we carefully rolled up our chart paper of ideas about Molly’s Fire and brought it to Ms. Carey’s book talk. Our time with her went right up to the dismissal bell but we still hadn’t gotten to show her our list. The class crowded around her and asked if they could show her their thinking, even though the bell had rung and others were packing to go home. They were invested. When she read their ideas back to them, a smile affixed itself to her face and we all knew that yes, we’d understood. It was such a real and potent moment for the kids as readers.
After school, Ms. Carey gave me her contact information and asked me to send her a copy of our ideas. I did, and a while later, she responded with a thank you and an idea. Would it be alright, she wanted to know, if she returned to Blackwell…
Note from blog host: J
I have a sign on my library wall that defines libraries as:
2. An escape to other worlds
3. A connection to different people
4. A place of learning and growth.
My goal is to make the Blackwell library a warm and welcoming place for students related to all four library definitions. Most days during lunch recess somewhere between 10 and 40 students choose to visit the library. They play educational computer games and visit, they check out and read books, they work on homework, they ask for help on projects. Through class instruction, recess visits and now blogging, I think I am making progress towards the goal!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.