School Librarians as a Literacy Specialist...Not a Babysitter

In our district, the Library Media Centers (LMCs) are a dumping ground.  

As per the contract, K-5 teachers send their students to the LMC for 30 minutes a week as a Special, like Art, Music or PE.  During the 30 minutes, students receive a mini-lesson on a variety of topics including digital literacy, library expectations and procedures, keyboarding practice, digital citizenship and more.  They are also allowed, clearly, to check out books.  The checkout process can take around 10-15 minutes which doesn't leave very much time for the LMC director to execute their curriculum.

The LMC Directors want change!  In a recent article put out by The Guardian, "...[revolutionizing the school LMC] means a great deal...the library has the capacity to enjoy its own renaissance. Because of the digital revolution it is no longer just about the printed book. As a space, it is about inspiring young people." 

Our LMCs have that potential.  I've seen it happen.  Just yesterday, I popped in on one of our LMC Directors, Ms. Erin Preder, in the middle of a collaboration session with a fellow 5th-grade teacher and his students.  She and the class used Story by Disney, a FREE iPhone/iPad app, to create a Digital Story of the LMC Expectations.  The entire process took only 27 minutes from start (brainstorming rules) to finish (watching what they created).  Unlike the regulary scheduled 30-minute LMC blocks, the teacher stayed with the class and handled the management of the class while Ms. Preder led the class in collaborating, creating and technology instruction.

Ms. Preder displaying the final product to the participating class before publishing

As witness to this project, I can attest that it was collaboration at its best.  Both the teacher and Erin were working together to manage the class and maintain an authentic learning environment.  Erin and the students were working interdependently to create the final product.  Students were engaged from start to finish because they saw the relevancy and reward of the lesson design, the process, the procedures and the final product.  The students had buy-in because they were to be featured in the LMC Expectations slideshow that is to be viewed by the other classes; they were kept accountable, which also focused their efforts and minimized behavior issues despite the fact that only a single iPad was used for the lesson.  See the final product below:



For me, the entire experience was a glimpse as to how the LMC director should be utilized given the freedom to collaborate and cocreate with fellow staff members.  It's my personal opinion that if all LMC Directors were on a flex schedule, more opportunities like these would be possible, which would ultimately improve school climate, relationships among colleagues, and student engagement.

See below to learn more about Ms. Erin Preder and all the wonderful things happening in her LMC.

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