Leah GiarritanoSpring 2012Work JournalLIS591MWork JournalFriday, January 13, 2012Today was my first day on-site at Pleasantdale MiddleSchool in Burr Ridge, IL. My day started with a tour of theschool and an introduction to faculty and staff. Afterward, Ihelped my Cooperating Teacher-Librarian, Jana Stelter,prepare the library for book discussion groups that wereto take place later in the morning and early afternoon.During 4th period, I led my first book discussion of thebook Before I Die by Jenny Downham with a group of five8th grade girls. The experience was both exciting andrewarding. I wasn’t sure if the girls would be eager toparticipate. I was delightfully surprised to find most ofthem very passionate about the book and forthright insharing their opinions. I curiously observed the groupdynamics and made note of how some of the shy girlsinteract versus the more outspoken ones. The girlsresponded well to having a set of discussion questions. Wetook turns rolling a dice which indicated a particularquestion that girl should read to get the conversationstarted. This was a great way to keep the conversationmoving and give each girl some ownership of thediscussion. It seemed to bring the quieter girls out of theirshell and is definitely a tactic I would use in future bookdiscussions.
Later in the day, I sat in on two additional bookdiscussions with groups of 6th and 7th graders. The 6thgrade children discussed Oogy by Larry Levin and the 7thgraders discussed Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce. It wasinteresting to observe how differently the children fromeach grade expressed themselves. The confidence,thoughtfulness and succinctness of the children definitelyincreased by grade level.After the book discussions, Jana and I straightened up thelibrary, collected cords and microphone stands from theschool auditorium, sat and discussed my practicum andsome of the things I would like to learn while working atPleasantdale and then Jana introduced me to a veryinteresting library information literacy assessment toolcalled TRAILS (Tool for Real-time Assessment ofInformation Literacy Skills) at www.trails-9.org. This is anexcellent resource for measuring information literacy andpre and post-tests are provided for 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12thgraders. The tool is very dynamic, allowing the teacher-librarian to better understand the knowledge gaps of herclass and how she might tailor her lesson plans toaccommodate their needs. I would like to put this tool touse in the future when I become a teacher-librarian.Wednesday, January 18, 2012Today Jana introduced me to the library cataloging system,including how to check books in and out and renew them,when necessary. She explained that she allows the kids tocheck their books out themselves and how they go aboutdoing that. She shared that she frequently has trouble withbooks being overdue or lost and that her school doesn’t
allow her to fine the students or hold report cards fromthem if they have overdue books. Therefore, she hasnothing to hang over them in order to get books backexcept attendance at the end-of-year picnic. If they havebooks missing at the end of the year, the children may notattend the picnic, which is a favorite event among thestudents. Apparently each school has their ownphilosophy on dealing with overdue books and sheencouraged me to try and work that out with theadministration when I start my own library position. Itseems appropriate to have some consequence for notreturning books, otherwise the collection is compromisedand other students are penalized when the book they wantisn’t available because another student hasn’t returned itto the library.Jana explained a lot about her process for ordering newlibrary books. She showed me some of the differentwebsites she uses to order books and the pros and cons ofeach. She also took me through her library budget andexplained how she works with the school’s BudgetManager to negotiate and track her expenses. Shesuggested I pay very careful attention to my budget, whenI get one, and to always be sure to check that the numbersproperly represent what I have ordered. Apparently,mistakes frequently occur which can go unnoticed if youdon’t pay careful attention to your budget. I will definitelyremember this bit of advice and apply it to my own futureendeavors.I also had the opportunity to label some of the books andmagazines that recently arrived in order to prepare themto be shelved. Jana uses a combination of scanning labelson the book and inserted cards to track the books that arein her catalog. It was interesting to learn about her process
for adding new items into her system and to understandsome of the pitfalls she faces.Friday, January 20, 2012Today I had a great opportunity to observe Janainteracting with the kids. She strikes a great balancebetween playfulness and authority. The kids like andrespect her, yet she has no problem being stern when theyare out of line. I enjoy her style of interaction and feel like Iwould like to incorporate some of that style in my owndemeanor as a librarian. I am anxious to continueobserving her interactions throughout the practicum so Ican learn even more and develop my own hybrid styleincorporating aspects of the balance she maintains withthe kids.Monday, January 23, 2012I got a little more exposure to the library software system,Sagebrush, used at Pleasantdale. Jana walked me throughall of the different capabilities of the system and taught mehow to use some of the different features. In addition to allof the benefits, she explained some of the nuances andpitfalls of the system. This exposure afforded me a betterunderstanding of the versatility of a library softwaresystem, but also what to be wary of when selecting/usingmy own system in the future. She is required to do a lot ofmanual overriding to certain aspects of the system whichcan make things challenging. This insight, gained fromutilization of Sagebrush, will allow me to be better
prepared and know what to expect from my own system inthe future.Wednesday, February 1, 2012Today I had the opportunity to work in the computer labwith the 6th grade students while they put together theirbibliographies for an upcoming research project. This wasmy first opportunity to provide one-on-one help andinstruction and I enjoyed the interaction. At Pleasantdale,it seems that the opportunities to provide instruction arefew and far between because the teacher’s don’t want togive up control of their classrooms and allow the librarianto come in and teach. Therefore, I was quite excited aboutthis opportunity. It definitely seems to be an uphill battleto develop a good working relationship with the teachers. Iimagine that I will spend a good amount of time marketingmy skills and the library itself to the teachers at the schoolwhere I work. I will need to guide them on how tointegrate their curriculum with the skills I have to offer asan information specialist.Wednesday, February 8, 2012We have an author book talk next week and I was able tosit down with Jana and brainstorm some ideas on how tomarket the upcoming visit with the parents, staff andstudents. It was helpful to have this practical example thatI will likely face as a librarian to work through with Jana. Igot a lot of great ideas that I will be able to use in thefuture and got to learn about some of the different thingsshe must take into consideration when she is planning an
author visit. Some of the ideas we came up with include: astreaming PowerPoint presentation on the TV screen nearthe entry of the school with the book’s cover, the author’sphoto, key words describing the book that will createintrigue and suspense about the author and the visit, Janawill arrange to visit each classroom to talk about the bookand possibly read the first chapter to the students, therewill be signed copies of the books for sale which Jana willsend about information about to the parents via email,and we will make posters and brochures to hang anddistribute in advance of the visit.Friday, February 10, 2012Today I presented my practicum project, Peer ReadersAdvisory, to nine separate classrooms of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8thgrade students. I introduced the idea behind the projectand handed out worksheets for each of them to completewith the title of their favorite book as well as threedescriptive sentences regarding why they wouldrecommend the book/what made it their favorite book. Ienjoyed being in front of the children and talking to themabout this project. When I explained that I would be usingtheir recommendations to develop tools for them to use inselecting books when they come to the library, theybecame very enthusiastic. I am excited about this projectand know how important peer relationships are at thisstage in their life. Tying peer book recommendations intothe library is a great way to tap into their developmentalstage. Assuming the output of this project is productive, Iwill definitely implement this type of project in my ownlibrary. Just from the initial enthusiasm and interest Ireceived from the kids, I can tell that book
recommendations from their friends are very important!Wednesday, February 15, 2012Today I spent my time in the library preparing for an authorvisit for the 5th and 6th grade students. A.J. Hartley, author ofDarwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact, is scheduled to visitPleasantdale on Thursday, February 16, 2012. I helped Janacreate PowerPoint slides to run on the monitor in theentranceway of the school as a way to get the kids excitedabout the visit. I distributed order forms to the classrooms sothe children would have the opportunity to purchase a copy ofthe book and have A.J. Hartley sign it for them. I also helpedorganize the books that had already been signed to make iteasier for the author to know how to dedicate the book. Ienjoyed my involvement in preparation for the author’s visit. Itwas fun to see the excitement in the kids’ eyes, knowing anauthor was coming to visit their school. As a librarian, I will besure to schedule regular author visits as they certainly create alot of buzz about the library and reading. I learned thatAnderson’s Books, a local bookstore, coordinates a lot of theseauthor visits so I will plan to develop a relationship with themand express my interest in scheduling author visits for theschool I end up working for.Thursday, February 16, 2012Today A.J. Hartley came to Pleasantdale to speak to the 5thand 6th grade students. There was excitement in the airprior to his arrival as students eagerly awaiting theannouncement that it was time to gather together to hearhim talk. The PowerPoint presentation was playing in theentranceway and children were excited clutching their
books. A.J. Hartley was a great speaker and providedwonderful advice to the children about his experience asan author, how he gets his ideas, what it feels like to have abook rejected and how you have to just keep on writingdespite the rejection. He allowed plenty of time forquestions and, much to my surprise, the children were fullof interesting and engaging questions. The room was like asea of hands waving back and forth to be called upon. Thequestions were thoughtful and proved to me howimportant it is to have author’s come and visit children atthe school. They were very interested to better understandhis writing process and I could imagine them keeping hisadvice in mind as they write their own papers and stories.This experience further reinforced my commitment tomake a regular practice of scheduling author visits when Ibecome a librarian.Friday, February 17, 2012There was a teacher in-service today that I had anopportunity to participate in. One of the topics I foundmost interesting and useful for application to my owncareer was use of the Promethium boards. We receiveddemonstrations on the various functionalities of theboards and suggestions for various uses with the students.They are very powerful and dynamic tools and I think itwould be a great educational tool for use in the library. Iam hopeful that if one doesn’t already exist in the library Iend up working at, I will be able to persuade theadministration to consider its value as a significantlearning tool.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012Today I had the opportunity to observe the administrationof Illinois State Testing. The library was used to test kidswith special needs. It was interesting to observe theprocess for kids requiring both extra time andtheindividual reading of directions. I didn’t realize howstrict procedures are during testing. It is obvious thattesting is taken very seriously and is a huge priority at theschool. It made me think about how schools are measuredby the outcome of these tests and funding is oftendetermined by the test results.Today was the first day of Pleasantdale’s Spring Book fair.They use Anderson’s Books as their vendor. I enjoyedbeing a part of the book fair and observing how things arerun. Recently in class (School Library Media Center) wehad overviews of two other vendors: Scholastic and BlueRibbon. That made this experience even more memorable.I was able to ask Jana questions specifically related to thebook fair process with Anderson’s and compare that towhat I learned about Scholastic and Blue Ribbon.Friday, March 9, 2012Today I got practical experience learning how to coverbooks. While it wasn’t the most exciting job, I enjoyedbeing a part of this process. It is possible to pay vendors,like Follett, to do this type of cover before shipping thebooks to the library. However, that service comes with ahigh price tag. With the budget cuts school libraries arefacing, librarians needs to get creative and cut down on
costs in new and innovative ways. Covering her own booksis one of those ways that Jana ensures that her budget goestoward buying new books and resources for the students.She does whatever she can on her own to cut expenses sothat her budget is used to its fullest possible benefit.Friday, March 16, 2012Jana was in an all-day curriculum meeting today so I hadthe opportunity to manage the library on my own. It was agreat experience for me. There were a number of Englishclasses spending their period in the library so I had thechance to help them search the catalog and find resources.In a couple cases I was able to make recommendations onfiction titles. A teacher came in asking me to administertests to a couple of their students. Jana had me working oncataloging and organizing books for the upcoming springbook club program. During any pauses in the day, I tookthe opportunity to check books in and re-shelve. My busyand active day drove home the importance of a librarian’sneed to be flexible. I had to shift gears throughout the dayas the periods changed and new groups of students withdifferent needs came through the library. I enjoyed thepace and the diversity of managing such a variety of needs.Friday, April 13, 2012Today was a great day of leading book group discussions. Iled the 6th graders in a group discussion about Fallen byLauren Kate. The conversation was lively and the kidswere very engaged. I provided them with a list of read-alike books which they really seemed to appreciate so that
is something I will plan to incorporate into my future bookgroup discussions. One of the students told me she lovedhaving me as her leader because I asked a lot of goodquestions, cared about their responses and didn’t rushthrough the discussion as some of her previous leadershad done. It was great for me to get this feedback from astudent and I will keep it in mind as I continue leadingthese group discussions. I led a group of five 7th grade girlsin a discussion about the book, Footloose, based on thenew screenplay. Like the earlier discussion, these girlswere very enthusiastic about the book and sharing theirideas. I had a little more trouble keeping these girls ontopic as they would start talking about clothes and friends,etc. I found myself having to steer the conversation back tothe book. However, they were receptive and it all wentwell.Monday, April 16, 2012After lots of behind the scenes work, I finally began to“install” my practicum project in the library. It wasexciting to see the fruits of my labor come to life and thinkabout the students utilizing the tools I created. I think thatthis project will gain a lot of interest and momentum in theschool and, while very labor intensive, I would definitelyconsider doing another similar project in the future at myown school.Monday, April 1, 2012Today was my last day at Pleasantdale. It was sad to finishmy practicum as I loved working at the school with the
kids and Jana. It was exciting to see my practicum projectfully installed. The PowerPoint presentation was runningin the front entranceway and the kids were very excited tosee all of the book recommendations from their friends.Both the principal and assistant principal commented onhow fantastic it was. Within the library, the shelves, bygrade, are all set up, with customized bookmarks withrecommendations by grade, a posted list of all thestudents, by grade, with the books they recommended aswell as the recommended books displayed by grades withmultiple copies for the kids to view and check out. All inall, the project, as well as my time at Pleasantdale, was agreat success. It was a rewarding way to end my timethere with the implementation of a successful project thatis sure to be used long after I am gone and that is gettingthe kids so exciting about new books to check out based ontheir friends’ reviews.