My students are creating an anthology of poetry and short stories. They are even publishing it themselves. We'll have a book release party, where parents will come and the students can read their work. We will keep copies of their book and others like it in the library for everyone to enjoy.
Publishing student writing is easy with the various publishing apps available online. You can even self-publish in an analog way, by binding the book yourself.
Book-creating is just one example of the many ways we, as TLs, can showcase students' work. Educator Rushton Hurley once said, “If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If their just sharing it with you, they just want it to be good enough.“
I couldn’t agree more! Showcasing student work in a public forum, whether it be up on the walls in the school or in an online portfolio or blog is a great way to encourage students to take pride in, and ownership of, their work.
There are so many ways to share and showcase student learning. Of course, you can still do it the old-fashioned way, by putting their art, writing, or other creations on display in the library. But, consider for a moment how exciting it would be if we allowed for multi-modal showcasing. For example, young students doing a story workshop could showcase their storytelling abilities through theatre or film, creating sets, writing scripts, making puppets and working collaboratively with their peers. You could even put on a “film festival” to show off their final products.
Educators are using web 2.0 tools to showcase student learning. Blogs and digital scrapbooks are a great way to connect students to each other and the community at large. Blogs allow students to connect at school and at home, building understanding through guided inquiry. It takes a bit to start up a web 2.0 venture with students. First you need to ensure that they know the ins and outs of being a digital citizen.
There are generally 4 types of blogs: news, where students discuss and analyze current events.
mirror, where students reflect on their own learning and experiences,
showcase, where students can post work that they have created (much like on freshgrade), and literacy response, where students read and analyze books and other pieces of literature. Just remember that if you are sharing something like a blog, a class Youtube channel, or Twitter page, you need to adhere to your district’s privacy policies, and may need to limit your audience to protect your students’ privacy.
If teachers are feeling especially ambitious, they can bring students into community activism projects, such as hosting a public forum on a topic they have been researching, or getting involved with a local environmental restoration project of their choosing. Students tend to do their best work when they know that it will have a real-world impact.
The Learning Commons plays a huge role in the way that student work is showcased, especially when students have access to maker-spaces, filming equipment, book creating apps, and robotic equipment. There is no place in the new BC curriculum where it says that students have to write or take a test to showcase their learning. They can show their learning with art, writing, oral presentations, blogging, vlogging…. The sky is the limit in the LC, and giving them choices is a huge part of universal design.
Let's be frank. I'm new at this whole teaching thing. Not only that, but I came by my teacher-librarian gig in an odd way. I never expected to finish my teaching practicum and entirely skip over being a classroom teacher. That's not the way my life would have gone had I changed careers and become a teacher 10 years ago. But, in B.C. right now, we are desperately short on teachers. For us newcomers, it's the best of times and the worst of times. There are so many jobs. But, the pressure to learn in an environment where teachers are hard to find and classrooms are overflowing, drives some new teachers to run for the nearest exit.
Here's how my story goes. I finished my practicum and got on the TTOC board, where I was called out daily to different schools in our district. One day I saw that a school needed a library TTOC. I'd never done library, but at the time I thought it sounded interesting, so I took the job to fill in for the day (or so I thought). I enjoyed the day even though I had no idea how to check out books, organize library lessons, or use the library computer program. I made the most of it and expected to move on and be back in another class the next day.
At the end of the day, the school principal stopped in to see how my day went. When I told her I enjoyed it, she immediately smiled and said, "You want the job?" Ummmm. Say what?
I took the rest of the day to think it over and talk to my husband about the pros and cons. In the end, I accepted and my journey began.
I am still in the same library almost two years later. As it turns out, I was made for this job. Not only do I love it, but I have taken great pride in transforming my space from library to a learning commons. It's been a labour of love. At my school we were lucky to receive two sizeable grants totalling $60,000 for technology, books, and furniture. If you had seen my library when I started, you wouldn't recognize it today. It's a source of great pride and joy in my life.
I want to stay in the library, so this past summer I started my teacher-librarian certification process through Queen's university. I've learned so much about creating a dynamic, engaging, and modern space for my students and I can't wait to share it with you! More to come!