TEACHER LIBRARIANS ROAR!
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 teacher librarian Beth Campbell.
I’m the teacher librarian at Hopewell Elementary School in Bettendorf, IA. Our school, which opened four years ago, is located near the intersection of Interstate 80 and the mighty Mississippi River. What a thrill it was to be able to design the layout of our new library while choosing and ordering 10,000 new books for our children to enjoy.
Since Day 1, our library has been a “Learning Laboratory,” and the hub of thinking and learning in our building. Together, we have become a “Culture of Readers,” where students are empowered to make a difference, not only inside our walls, but around the world. We are passionate about possibilities.
Reading and learning is truly a way of life for me, and I strive to instill that in all of my students. Working and collaborating with other teachers, I love to meet students where they’re at, assess what they need for the future, and give them the tools to move forward. No day is the same. Each challenge is unique. When we walk through this learning adventure together, as students, staff, authors and experts, we connect and solve problems. It’s a joy to see ideas come to life each and every day, and to have a front-row seat watching students grow before my very eyes.
Roar For Libraries
Libraries should be the hub of learning, and a place where students can come to follow their dreams, enhance their knowledge and work collaboratively with others. Libraries should not simply be a “Museum of Books,” or “Shelves for Storage.” Libraries should be warm and vibrant laboratories where students and teachers work together with the librarian to make connections with the real world. Libraries are a place where ideas are born, problems are solved and learning is made fun.
I have a costume closet filled with items to enhance my storytelling, and dressing up as book characters affords many laughs and giggles, none of which compares to having Ramona Quimby crack a raw egg over her head, with yoke streaming down her face.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
Our students are A Culture of Readers. They talk about reading. They discuss authors as if they were personal acquaintances, and can list enough titles to fill an antiquated card catalog. Reading is their passion, and they understand its power. They also love to share their newfound knowledge, which has led us to develop new and innovative programs.
This year our 4th and 5th graders worked to create one-minute audio excerpts from great books, for the sole purpose of actively recommending powerful books to others. While the teacher role is important, so is the peer recommendation process. And, we wanted to impact others outside of Hopewell as well. Using an app called Adobe Voice, students have posted over 200 audio excerpts on the Hopewell Library page. We have shared this page with others via social media, and the students feel empowered that their ideas are helping other young people find great books to read.
However, that experience was just the tip of the iceberg, and led us to our most powerful adventure. Earlier this year TED_Ed approved our application to start a TED_ED Club for students at Hopewell. It was an honor to be chosen, and throughout the year one of our sixth-grade teachers and I spent time helping students look at their personal passions, goals and ideas about reading, and then sharing that with others, both inside our four walls and around the world.
Without a doubt this process was the most enlightening and powerful instructional tool I’ve ever done with students. They were in the driver’s seat, and they wanted to make a difference. It was real world learning, and an opportunity for them to pursue their individual interests and ideas. They spent the year devouring books, and by May their work had transformed into after-school events for other students, puppet shows, graphic arts displays, a monthly author focus and the National Summer Readers’ Award list. Students all over the building were talking about books and ideas because of what these sixth graders had done to promote reading. In true TED_Ed fashion, we held weekly discussions on the ups and downs of the journey.
It wasn’t just about the final product, but what they were learning along the way. The students learned to overcome obstacles and problems. They were forced to reframe and recraft goals. The power of this process was nothing short of amazing, especially when the fruits of their labor stretched around the world when two of our students kicked off the National Summer Readers’ Award list to encourage students around the world to read from their list of 19 titles over the summer. In an effort to evoke conversations about great books, they are asking students to visit their website this summer to vote for their favorite title on the list. It is truly an idea by students, and for students, and can be found at National Summer Readers Award
However, with all that said, of all the reading programs I’ve established over the years, the one that has made the biggest impact and best connection with kids is my IditaREAD program. My students and I love following the Iditarod dog sled race every year in Alaska, and Iditaread encourages students to read 1000 minutes during the winter months to celebrate reading and the race. My students and I have been able to skype with mushers, follow the race and our favorite mushers on a daily basis, and basically immerse ourselves in this great real-world event. IditaREAD is about making reading part of your every day routine. It’s not a competition or a race to finish, but showing others we love reading.
Our school district and PTA’s have been extremely supportive in bringing an author or illustrator to each of our elementary buildings, for an entire day, every other year. It is a beautiful gift! We loved Ralph Masiello and Mac Barnett and will be hosting Mary Amato in November 2015. The power of an author visit is never ending, and I’ve found that students talk about them and remember details of the visit with joy and excitement. The books of these authors still fly off the shelves long after that one special day is over.
So what makes a great visit? First and foremost it’s important that authors are real with kids! Kids love hearing the funny and the silly. They love to laugh and be engaged. They love hearing the author read from their books and answer their questions. I can’t stress that personal connection enough.
However, with that said, I must also mention how much the students have enjoyed communicating via Twitter and SKYPE with Dan Gutman, Andrea Beatty and Gordan Korman. When Deborah Freedman recently posted on Twitter that she was willing to SYKPE with classrooms on her new book’s birthday, we quickly responded. It was phenomenal. She read from Mouse and Frog and answered the students’ questions. Authors are so kind and willing to connect with students, and I honestly believe they enjoy it as much as the students. After our students fell in love with Eddie Red Undercover, we connected with author Marcia Wells via Twitter. That led to multiple conversations, a SKYPE call and a genuine respect for her and her work over the years! Stuart Gibbs, Janet Tashejiaan, Delia Ray, Gil Lewis, Marsha Hayles, Tara Dairman, Natalie Lloyd, Jenny Holm, Josh Berk and Jody Feldman are just a few of the amazing authors that have made connections with our students to help promote our Culture of Readers! Their connections affirm for students that reading is fun.
Thank you, Beth for your terrific interview!
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.