Kids as Creators Middle School Learning Program for the Public Library


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The Kids as Creators Workshop Series is a learning activity series focused on the 21st Century learning skills of critical thinking and creativity and is composed of six two-hour workshops for middle school children. The workshops will
be presented in three themed sets—Comic Creators, Game Creators, and Duct Tape Creators. The project is designed to address the need, identified through direct communication with Carthage area parents and teachers, for “beyond-book” learning programs for middle school children in the public library. The guiding goal of this workshop series is to provide middle school children with a structured, informally presented, learning environment in which to practice critical thinking and creativity skills. The program will enable participants to gain confidence in their research
abilities, be better prepared for junior high and high school, and improve their academic performance. The program will also attract a wider audience from this age group to the Carthage Free Library, and result in raising awareness of the resources available through the library for use in pursuing personal goals as well as academic.

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  • The Carthage Free Library’s Kids as Creators workshop series was conceived in response to a need for “beyond-book” activity programs for middle school children. The workshop series is intended to foster critical thinking and creativity, both important 21st Century Learning skills. By learning, practicing, and engaging in activities that fosterthese skills, the middle school children that attend the program will gain confidence, will be better prepared for junior high and high school, and will do better in school as a result. The workshop series will consist of six weekly two-hour workshops that are divided into three themed sets to give tween participants the opportunity to explore different interests in depth. The importance of providing public library programs that enhance learning skills is highlighted across publications intended for school media specialists, academic librarians, and public librarians. According to Maureen Hartman (2011), youth services have always been a vital part of the public library’s role in the community and she calls for libraries to own that role (p.10). Similarly, the American Association of School Librarians (1998) emphasizes the link public libraries provide between learning in the school environment and pursuing outside of school investigation and learning as vital to creating lifelong learners (p.124-5).
  • The overall trend in the literature is a push toward collaboration and building a network of school, public library, and community resources to enhance the lives of library members of all ages. In the context of the Kids as Creators program, it is particularly important that the emerging trend over the last two decades is recognition of the public library as an important resource to foster learning and creativity in middle school children. In addition to organizations such as the American Library Association (2006) recommendation that libraries reach out to schools and other community organizations to collaborate (p. 3), 85% of Americans ages 16 and older indicated they thought libraries should “definitely” coordinate closely with local schools, according to PEW Research Center’s report on Library Services in the Digital Age, released January 22, 2013 (Zickuhr, Rainie, & Purcell, p. 47). The PEW study findings echo the needs Carthage community parents and teachers expressed in requesting middle school learning programs in the Carthage Free Library.
  • The following websites provide more resources about 21st Century Learning Skills
  • The benefits of this workshop series extend beyond the overarching program goals to improve participants’ critical thinking and creativity, to increase confidence in participants’ research skills, and to improve their academic performance. The workshop should also prove enjoyable to the service users and encourage them to become more comfortable with using library resources from home and at the library. At its best, this project will demonstrate to participants that the library is the place to begin pursuing their interests and that the resources the library has to offer are not limited to what the library holds in its physical collection.
  • The Estimated Program Budget represents an overall picture of the value of the Carthage Free Library’s investment in the workshop series and should be further considered and refined by the Project Team. The value of this program is estimated at $3124.00. The monetary value of the resources the library would need to allocate is $1244.00 and the donations of time, money, and other resources from project partners equal $1880.00.This project plan has been prepared with the understanding that the Carthage Free Library has staff and general office supplies available to allocate to the workshop series, and that any additional funds the project requires for materials or software must be procured from outside sources or through in kind donations. As a result of the budget limitations, the following project budget includes a notes section that contain recommendations for multiple options for funding specific elements of the project.The American Library Association (2006) suggests searching for grants at the local, state, and federal level. Hartman reminds librarians to look for local and private community funding while collaborating with community agencies as well as applying for federal grants (p. 11). The Kids as Creators program may benefit especially from grants given by local organizations and businesses, such as the Fort Drum Area Spouses Club, the Lions and Elks clubs, and Stewart’s Shops, all of whom award funds or volunteer assistance hours to organizations whose programs benefit the community. While those resources address finding money, there are other options for providing valuable programming resources at low costs. For example, Myers (2008) provides suggestions for choosing open source software to reduce costs for creative learning programs instead of purchasing software (p. 56). The Library Service to Children web site, Great Websites for Children, provides links to well-reviewed, free comic creation and video game creation programs that could provide free learning tools and lesson plans for those workshops. Kessler (2010) also suggests similar free sites that appropriately address program themes. This budget does contain a recommendation to purchase a limited educational license for both the Comic Creator workshop and the Game Creator workshop in order to provide participants with richer creation tools. Latham (2000) recommends tapping into resources such as the knowledge of community members, like local authors, artists, teachers, and other professionals to continue to provide quality programs when resources are tight or nonexistent (p. 148). These specialists have been included in the project budget as Subject Experts and their time considered as a valuable donation to the project. Reaching out to the community for volunteers, resources, and funding has the potential to provide not only the practical needs for this program, but also to strengthen community relationships with and investment in the library.
  • The brochure will be an essential element of marketing this program because it will reach a number of segments of the target audience in a variety of locations, both in and outside the library environment. The outside of the brochure should be designed to include schedule and registration information on the back and the remaining flaps used for parent information and a space for drawing to pique the curiosity of middle school participants. When volunteers hand out brochures at presentations, they can arrange the brochures to place the flap that would most appeal to the target audience segment as the brochure cover. The inside of the brochure should be clean and simple, but give middle school children and parents more information regarding what to expect from the workshops. The clip art included here is representative of they type of graphics that should be chosen for the brochure—graphics that appear to be different types of comic drawings from which students can gain inspiration. The sample images were taken from pictures found through a Creative Commons image search, and should not be used in actual marketing material until the nature of their use license is verified.
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  • While librarians should not assume that what works in one library will be a sure- fire success in their own library, sharing and considering proven practices is an important element in considering a marketing plan (Rubin, 2006). Soltan (2004) provides us an important clue to best marketing tools geared toward reaching middle school children by pointing out that they seek information mainly through their parents, the media and the internet.The following list is organized with a focus on the intended stakeholders of the Kids as Creators program. Suggestions common to most of the literature reviewed have not been specifically cited, uniquely detailed tips have been. By connecting the common marketing tools from each list with the local locations and organizations that correlate to each, a picture develops of the web that will provide structure to the marketing plan.Within the Library Current Users § Provide eye-catching posters and displays in high-traffic areas of the library, including the in the main entrance, the circulation desk, and the community area upstairs between the children and teen rooms.§ Create a display of materials on the shelves in the community area of samples of the projects children may produce by the end of the program. (Struckmeyer, 2012, p. 37)§ Display brochures, flyers, and informational bookmarks in the library, each containing the library’s web address and telephone number in addition to program information.Staff § Communicate to staff, paid and volunteer, the details of the program during the weekly Morning Meeting.§ Provide staff with program buttons that help generate questions and interest from patrons.§ Stress to staff the importance of word-of-mouth marketing. The simple act of talking about the program could generate interest (ALA, 2006, p. 1).Outside the Library Middle School Children § Provide flyers, brochures, and bookmarks that contain program information for distribution in school and by community organizations.Provide half-sheet flyers to distribute to local public and private middle schools.Provide bookmarks to distribute through community youth organizations, such as scouting organizations, faith based organizations, the Carthage After School Enrichment Program (CASE), and the YMCA Middle School Achievement Program (MAP).Promote the program on the main page and calendar page of the library web site.§ Include the library’s web address on all material created for the program to lead users to the main source of program information (Schrok, 2003, p. 36).Parents § Create program displays featuring a range of media resources related to the program alongside program flyers and information in areas of the library that parents regularly use (community area and display area near circulation desk) (Soltan, 2004).§ Include program details and goals in the library newsletter. § Include program information and links on the Carthage Free Library Facebook page.§ Provide flyers to local businesses to promote the event. § Promote the program on the library web site. § Invite parents to sign up for an E-mail Discussion list. Schools § Collaborate with the Carthage Middle School Librarian and after school care providers to promote the program as well as to gain their planning input.§ Visit and provide resource guides to out of school time programs (CASE and MAP to highlight the program, the program goals, and related library services (Hartman, 2011, p. 11). § Collaborate with local schools and home school groups to distribute flyers to middle school students (Struckmeyer, 2012, p. 37).Carthage Middle School Augustinian Academy Christian Heritage School Home Educators of Carthage Community § Collaborate with community organizations and businesses to get posters, bookmarks, and flyers out of the library and into the hands of non-users (ALA, 2006, p.2). This will be particularly effective with the local businesses and organizations that have partnered with the library in the past, such as the Carthage Federal Credit Union, the Lions Club, and local scout groups.§ Provide photographs, information about the program, and point of contact information to the local newspaper, the Carthage Tribune (McDaniel, n.d.).§ Provide local media outlets, MyABC50 and the Fort Drum Community Chanel, with information about the program.§ Promote the program on the library Facebook page. § Encourage staff and patrons to practice word-of-mouth marketing for the program during their daily lives outside of the library. Sometimes “getting the word out” about a program is as simple as one person talking to another person about it (ALA, 2006, p.1).The above recommendations provide examples of specific ways the library can market the program to the tween user of the program, their caregivers, their educators, and their community. Addressing each of these stakeholders in the marketing plan will ensure that people know about the workshop series and understand who and what it is for so that it does not “slip through the cracks.”
  • Our assessment plan includes a number of layers—we will assess participants’ gain in knowledge and confidence, but we will also assess the effectiveness of our facilitators, their methods, and the effectiveness of the program itself.
  • The Kids as Creators workshop series content provider will develop workshop lesson plans based on a clear picture of the learning targets and standards associated with critical thinking and creativity. Each workshop theme will be presented in a pair of two workshops to provide time for individual participant inquiry between workshops. It will be important for the content provider to choose lesson elements that are directly suited to the workshop participants, the workshop module topics, and the informal learning environment. The Institute of Library and Museum’s 21st Century Learning Skills webs site and the New York state standards education site EngageNY both outline relevant learning goals and standards recommended for incorporation into the workshop set lesson plans. A Workshop Set Planning document for the Comic Creator workshops, found in Appendix A, illustrates appropriate learning standards, activities, and planning considerations that can serve as a guide to facilitators assisting at the workshops and to planning future workshop sets.
  • What else would you like to know about the plan? What further details are you interested in learning?
  • Kids as Creators Middle School Learning Program for the Public Library

    1. 1. Carthage Free Library Middle School Workshop Series
    2. 2. Goals of the Program Increase Awareness and Use of Library Resources to Support Individual Inquiry Enhance Critical Thinking and Creativity Skills Promote Confidence in Research Abilities Promote Academic Achievement
    3. 3. Outcomes of the Program By the end of a workshop set: • 80% of participating middle school children will demonstrate that they have a better understanding of the resources the library offers, and 70% of participating middle school children who attended the workshops will be able to list four different type of resources the library offers. • 70% of participants will be able to articulate at least two methods by which to evaluate the reliability of those resources.
    4. 4. Outcomes of the Program In the months following the series: • 60% of program participants will return to the library to use resources or attend programs at least six times in the three months following the workshop series.
    5. 5. Outcomes of the Program By the end of the 6th grade: •40% of middle school participants who respond to the online survey will say they have gained confidence in using library resources and believe their grades have improved as a result of attending the program. •50% of parents of program participants will report that their children have gained confidence in their research abilities as a result of the program and that they believe their grades have improved as a result.
    6. 6. Carthage Free Library Mission Statement Learning Programs in the Public Library
    7. 7. Critical Thinking and Creativity The Kids as Creators Workshop Series is designed to help students develop many important 21st Century Learning Skills—with a special focus on critical thinking and creativity.
    8. 8. Suggested Workshop Topics Duct Tape Creators Game Creators Comic Creators
    9. 9. Project Plan Carthage Free Library
    10. 10. Project Plan Basics • Three Workshop Sets • • • Registration Required • • • • • Two 2-hour workshops 1 week apart Variety of materials, digital and print 20-25 Students One set or all three Equitable use of resources Opportunities for ongoing assessment Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning Focus
    11. 11. Responsible Parties • • • • • Project Sponsor • Library Director Project Manager • P/T Library Assistant Project Team Members • P/T Library Assistant • Volunteers/Content Providers • Marketing Coordinator • Subject Matter Expert Coordinator Steering Committee Chair Steering Committee Members • Middle School Children • Parents • Teachers • School Media Specialist • Community Collaborator
    12. 12. Communication Plan Project Team Member Content Provider/Facilitator (2) Project Manager Project Team Member Part Time Marketing Coordinator (1) Libary Assistant Project Team Member Subject Matter Expert Project Sponsor Libary Director Steering Committee Members Steering Committee Chair Middle School children, Parents, Teachers, School Media Specialist
    13. 13. Timeline Early May Initiating Planning Implementing Controlling Closing Ongoing Assessment Mid May Late May Early June Mid June Late June Ongoing
    14. 14. Initiating Early May Mid May Late May Initiating • Outline Project Plan • Agree on Roles • Outline Responsibilities • Map Communication Strategies • Solicit Stakeholder Feedback • Finalize Plan Early June Mid June Late June Ongoing
    15. 15. Planning Early May Mid May Late May Early June Planning • Refine Project Timeline • Finalize Budget • Confirm Project and Workshop Standards • Monitor and Review Deliverables • Pilot Test and Solicit Stakeholder Feedback • Create and Distribute Marketing Materials • Open Registration Mid June Late June Ongoing
    16. 16. Implementing Early May Mid May Late May Early June Mid June Implementing • Communicate Regularly with All Stakeholders • Run Workshops • Ongoing Registration • Discuss Issues and Budget • Provide Feedback • Ongoing Marketing as Needed Late June Ongoing
    17. 17. Controlling Early May Mid May Late May Early June Mid June Late June Ongoing Controlling • Communicate with Team and Stakeholders Regularly • Run Workshops • Implement Iterative Changes Based on Feedback • Monitor and Evaluate Effectiveness of Marketing • Review Assessment Documents and Make Recommendations • Ongoing Marketing and Registration as Needed
    18. 18. Closing Early May Mid May Late May Early June Mid June Late June Closing • Confirm Ongoing Assessment Plan • Track Evaluation of Outcomes • Communicate Efforts and Assessments to Stakeholders • Review Issues and Budget • Thank Project Team and Participants • Initiate Long Term Assessment Plan Ongoing
    19. 19. Ongoing Assessment Early May Mid May Late May Early June Mid June Late June Ongoing Ongoing Assessment • Communicate Regularly with All Stakeholders • Make Recommendations for Decisions Based on Outcome Assessment • Repeat the Program • Offer the Same Program • Scale the Program Up • Scale the Program Down • Offer New Themes • Do Not Repeat the Program
    20. 20. Estimated Program Budget Library Expenses In Kind Donations Notes Director $244 16 hours Staff $940 70 hours Volunteers $720 60 hours Subject Experts $540 30 hours $400 Office supplies for marketing and assessment, as well as donations for art supplies and duct tape Software $100 Comic Creation and Game Creation software license for 30 participants Snacks $120 Light snacks and drinks for each of six workshops Office & Art Supplies $60 Estimated Program Value $3124 Estimated Library Expenses $1244 Estimated In Kind Donations $1880
    21. 21. Marketing Plan Carthage Free Library
    22. 22. Marketing Positioning Statement The Kids as Creators Workshop Series is intended to provide a safe, informal, and information rich environment in which middle school children can apply critical thinking and creativity skills to gain confidence, to improve their grades, and to become more productive members of the community.
    23. 23. Key Messages Target Audience Key Message Middle School Children Let your mind go wild! Create original content, have fun with friends and unleash your creativity. Parents Your children will hone their critical thinking and creativity skills while they have fun creating original comics, games, and duct tape creations at the library. Teachers Encourage students to hone their critical thinking and creativity skills and increase their confidence in using library resources while having a great time making original works. Community Partners Join us in preparing our children to be active creators in our community’s future. Members of the Community Learn more about preparing our children to be active creators in our community’s future.
    24. 24. Marketing Methods Target Audience Method Middle School Children Word of mouth, school visits, social networking (through parent accounts), through leaders of social clubs and other out of school activities Parents Library signage and take-home materials, library web site, social networking (especially Facebook), and word of mouth Teachers Direct conversation, e-mail, brochures, classroom visits when possible Community Partners Direct contact through phone calls or in-person visits, invitations to library events Members of the Community Newspaper, community television channel, word of mouth
    25. 25. Brochures
    26. 26. Signs
    27. 27. Flyers and Posters
    28. 28. Assessment Plan Carthage Free Library
    29. 29. Assessment Plan The assessment plan for this program relies on integrated forms of assessment that serve as both learning tools and assessment indicators. KWL Charts, Graphic Organizer, Online Surveys, Focus Groups, and Semiscripted Interviews will combine to provide a comprehensive evaluation of whether or not the program is meeting the outcomes in support of the workshop series goals.
    30. 30. Result Scenarios and Decision Making Indicators • Meeting the outcome • Continue the program as planned • Monitor and adjust to improve program • Within a reasonable range of the outcome • Review outcome statistics to assess and propose revision • Deploy revisions to better meet objectives • Monitor to assess effectiveness of program changes • Take appropriate action • Failure to meet the outcome • Review outcome statistics to assess whether outcome is inappropriate or the means of attempting to reach the outcome is appropriate • Collaborate to determine whether revisions to the program implementation, deployment, or staffing may effectively change program effectiveness • Monitor to assess effectiveness of program changes • Take appropriate action
    31. 31. Timeline for Continuous Assessment Action Responsible Party Timing and Frequency Create measurement plan Program Manager with input from Facilitators and Library Director April 22-May 2 Communicate plan to staff, offer opportunity for feedback, address staff concerns Program Manager May 2-May 9 Train Facilitators to administer and evaluate assessment tools Program Manager May 9 throughout program as needed Pilot Tests Facilitators,Program Manager April 25-May 16 And ongoing throughout program and postprogram assessment Approve Action Plan with any adjustments determined necessary after the pilot test Library Director May 16 (At Program Planning Meeting) Record and Interpret Data Program Manager, with some input from Facilitators May - June Report to Library Director and Staff Program Manager May 27, 2013-June 2015 Monitor and Adjust Facilitators, with oversight from the Program Manager May 23, 2013-June 2015 Report to Stakeholders Library Director, with support from Program Manager June 2013-July 2015 Conduct Follow Up Assessments Program Manager June 2013-July 2015 Three-month survey, and end-of-school year surveys
    32. 32. Workshop Sets Carthage Free Library
    33. 33. Sample Workshop Set Schedule The times listed below should serve as a guideline and remain fluid to retain the informal nature of the learning atmosphere. The elements addressed in parenthesis represent the stage of Inquiry Based Learning the activity supports. Workshop 1 6:00-6:15 Greet (Connect/Wonder) 6:15-6:45 Present Ideas and Show Examples and Tools (Connect/Wonder) 6:45-7:00 Have students share ideas and try out a variety of tools (Investigate) 7:007:15+ Guide to choose project and appropriate tools/Investigate (Construct) 7:15-7:45 Facilitate where needed (Construct) 7:45-8:00 Share project progress with each other (Express) Workshop 2 6:00-6:15 Greet (Connect/Wonder) 6:15-7:30 Continue to work on projects and facilitate where needed (Construct) 7:30-8:00 Share projects and talk about what they learned (Express/Reflect)
    34. 34. Supporting AASL Standards American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standard 1: Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge. Standard 2: Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge. Workshop planners can access information regarding 21st Century learning outcomes and support systems at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website at and at the New York State Education website’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers page at
    35. 35. Example of Resources Needed For Comic Creators Workshop Text-a variety of age-appropriate comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and novels that incorporate comics as a main element Digital-a variety of digital comic examples and a demonstration and tutorial of the comic creation software chosen by the Project Team as appropriate for this lesson Materials-a variety of art supplies for students to create a paper comic strip, sheet, or book
    36. 36. Questions Carthage Free Library