ROAR FOR OPEN WINDOW SCHOOL LIBRARIAN!
Library Lions interviews Raising a Roar for libraries and the outstanding librarians in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Laura Simeon!
Library Assistant Yuri Kenmochi, visiting author Anjali Banerjee, and Librarian Laura Simeon
For the past 9 years I’ve been lucky enough to be the librarian at Open Window School in Bellevue, Washington, just outside Seattle. We are a K-8 school with just over 300 students, sitting on top of Cougar Mountain with a gorgeous view and some “interesting” weather. We share our campus with assorted wild animals – deer, bobcats and more – who mostly wait until the humans have departed to make an appearance, though deer are regularly spotted running behind the buildings. Some classrooms keep tallies of deer sightings! So far none of them have tried eating the artificial turf – at least, I hope not!
One of the best parts of working with kids is the many surprising, insightful, inspirational and humorous things they say.
I consider research to be an endless adventure – but learning all the necessary skills can feel tedious or intimidating. We try to make the process fun and our 4th graders’ mystery square project is a good example of this. First, students search the OPAC to locate a nonfiction book about a country of their choice. Next they select six “just right” (not too obvious, not too obscure) facts about their country from the book and six from a database. They reflect on their clues, choose the four they think will work best, and create a mystery square with one clue on each flap and the country’s name and flag on the inside. Finally, we record a video of them reading their clues. On the final day of the project, we play each video clip and students make their guesses on handheld whiteboards. This allows everyone to participate and gives the students instant feedback on whether their clues were too easy, too hard or just right.
One of the many things that make this job fresh and interesting is that you’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to teaching information literacy skills and encouraging people to read widely and often. Inspired by an ALSC blog post, http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2011/03/national-poetry-month-is-better-with-book-spine-poems/, our middle schoolers ran around the library creating book spine poems. In the process they had fun, practiced their catalog search skills, and stumbled across a lot of books with titles that piqued their interest!
Dead girls don’t write letters
What a beast
Each little bird that sings
Readers Roar: Let’s hear from the kids!
I have a sense of which books never sit for long on our shelves – the Star Wars cookbooks, chess books, optical illusions, folktales, graphic novels, and anything to do with rodents! But when I ran a circulation report, these three titles came out on top:
We love bringing authors to campus! For years afterwards, students remember and talk about them. They look at all books in a different way after they’ve had a peek at the hard work that goes into writing. They also have a better understanding of the creative process and this informs and improves their own writing.