Baker Middle School Librarian Roars!
My name is Kristin Fraga Sierra. I am Teacher Librarian at Baker Middle School in Tacoma Washington.
Fortunately, I am part of a dynamic team of Tacoma Public Schools who are supported and trained in instructional technology by future-ready leadership. Through a district grant and lots of donated items from our school and local community, “Baker’s Makers” Makerspace Program was born. This program is a hands-on learning and making opportunity for students in the library at lunch. They can come and participate in a wide variety of fun activities and clubs. We also have an exciting annual reading competition called the Battle of the Books.
What do you love most about your work?
I love the non-stop action. I love the challenge that each day brings. I love collaborating with teachers to enrich learning for our students. I love inviting students into the library every day for lunchtime to enjoy the library, get books, spend time reading and/or participate in the ”Baker’s Makers” Makerspace. The two really big programs are what really get me excited: the daily Makerspace program
and Tacoma Battle of the Books district competition, which runs for about 5 months each year January-April.
A Mighty Roar!
School libraries matter because students matter. School libraries are good for students. Having a knowledgeable, caring Teacher Librarian as a support for various academic, physical and practical needs is crucial and central to student success. School libraries are many things to many people: a refuge, a valuable resource, a place for equitable access to knowledge, technology, and hands-on learning experiences and a school community hub.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
The Makerspace program has brought many positive things to Baker Library: more students are using the library than ever before; more students are experiencing new STEM learning opportunities that they otherwise would not have. Some of these opportunities include a “Girls Who Code” Coding Club, a 3D Print design club, 90 Second Newbery Film Festival club, elaborate virtual world-building using the education version of Minecraft: Minecraft.edu.
We have an active knitting club, crafting club, sewing club, weaving club and art centers.
We have monthly themes in which there is something new to check out. For example, in February we have Discover Your Hero center full of books and resources highlighting heroes of Black History of today and yesterday.
There are two computers displaying student-made video playlists “Black History Bio Videos” looped and displayed directly from our YouTube channel, Baker Broadcasting. All these activities have a student leader or leaders to help with the organization and maintenance of the parts and the details. Admittedly, it is a lot of “front loading” work but it is fun and it is what I love the most about this special position. On days that I teach classes or collaborate with teachers, one lunch is open and the other closed, to make time for instruction.
-I think it is a wonderful library full of fun and educational things to do and read, i love the baker library! Hallie, 7th grade
-It has a very large selection of books and genres and is not exclusive to a specific genre, i think that this makes Baker Library a welcoming and safe place. Aryanna, 6th grade
-I think it’s an enjoyable place where you can do lots of fun great things at lunch. Saylor, 8th grade
-I think that it’s a very calm place and you can go there if you want some alone time and quietness also read the books as a stress reliever. Angelina 8th grade
The perfect author visit would be for a class or classes that had read the guest author’s books and had ample time to discuss the books. The students would spend time before the author comes visiting the author website, reading their blog or social media and any reviews of their work. The students would also spend time thinking up great questions for the guest author about their books, the characters in them, their writing style, their career, and any other relevant topic they wanted to ask our guest. The guest author would take time sharing about their life. The author would share some of their past, current or future projects with the students, encourage them with some meaningful life and career advice, and possibly tie in thoughts on issues in our local community, our nation or international current topics. It is always inspiring to hear of how someone got to where they are; students may start realizing there are many ways to success and “see themselves” walking on a path to their own bright future.
One Last Roar
Another highlight to my job is that I get to coach the students in our annual district-wide Battle of the Books reading competition. All the Tacoma Middle Schools participate in an optional reading competition which spans over five months of the school year. This competition is an opportunity for the students to form teams of 3-5 players, read 10 books among them, take 10 short quiz questions to qualify for the game day, or what we call the “Battle.” On Battle day, the teams that qualified will get to come to the library where they will as a team discuss the answers to a series of questions posed to the room, each one in reference to 1 of the 10 books. The winners of the school Battle get to compete against the winners from other schools in our district. Baker Bulldogs have won the District Championship Battle of the Books trophy 2 years running! So far this year I already have 10 teams and I expect some more. It is a powerful way to connect students to reading through team-based competition and fun “game-show style” book Battles!
Thank you, Kristin, for sharing your middle school library and vibrant library programs with us here on Library Lions Roar!
Library Lions Links
Facebook: Baker Boosters
YouTube Channel: Baker Broadcasting
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. Contact Janet at [email protected] for an interview slot.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet at [email protected] for an interview slot.