Sunday, 15 February 2015

Library Skills Sessions - Year 2's

One of my new projects for 2015 is running library skills sessions for our classes.  I started with five of the Year 2 classes this week.  I was a bit nervous about this foray into teaching but then my youngest son reminded me that "they're only Year 2's Mum", complete with eye roll.

The sessions were the first of two I will have with this age group.  I'd love to have more but we are such a big school I can't fit it into our library timetable.  My biggest concerns were how much material I could cover in 30 minutes and whether I would get the level right.

Here's what I did:
  • Introduced myself and talked about Esther, our library assistant
  • Mentioned the public library and how it is another great place to find good books to read
  • Asked the students to point out where certain books are, and then took them round to show them other parts of the library e.g. puzzle books, reading room
  • Talked  about what happens when you have an overdue book, and how to get an iPad at lunchtime
  • Went through some basic book terminology - cover, title, author and illustrator, spine, spine label
  • Asked students "If you wrote a book, what letter would be on the spine label?".
  • Showed the students how to put a book back on the shelf properly (right way up etc)
  • Had the students act as librarians and put a picture book away in the proper place
  • Described the difference between fiction and non-fiction
    • Gave the students laminated cards with "fiction" written on an orange background on one side and "non-fiction" in blue on the other*
    • Used some statements about their teacher as examples - Mrs ___ decided not to take her car to school and jumped on her pet dragon, Sparky instead.  Mrs ___ works at Te Totara Primary School.  Student held up their cards to show me whether they thought the statements were fiction or non-fiction.
    • Had students show me whether certain library books were fiction or non-fiction
  • Talked about what sort of things can damage books
  • Talked about what bookmarks are used for and gave one, with book care statements on it, to each of the students*

The sessions were well-received with several teachers telling me how much they appreciated me doing them.  It's hard  for them to find time for library skills when their normal class library times are only 30 minutes long.  

Things I noted:
  • It was good to have the teacher present because:
    • some said they learned things themselves (about what books we had)
    • they were able to identify which students would need help with the activities
    • they could see what I was teaching and follow it up in their classes.
  • There were students in each class who didn't know who I was, so it was a good chance to introduce myself.  On a later trip through the school at lunchtime I had several Year 2 students say hello.
  • I saw almost 100 children and not one knew that the letter on the spine label of a picture book is the first letter of the author's surname.  A lot knew that the letter helped you know where to shelve the book, but not why that particular letter was on the spine.
  • The students jumped at the chance to put books away.  Future librarians in the making!
  • Having the coloured cards to show fiction or non-fiction made it very quick for me to see what students thought
  • There is already a problem with some students thinking non-fiction means not true.  Perhaps a legacy from parents who have got it wrong?
  • Having the care of books part at the end of the session worked out well because it meant that when we were pushed for time I was the only one who talked about how books can get damaged; when I had a bit more time I asked the students for their suggestions (a lot of throwing and stepping on books, but one scenario involved a shark!).

* Based on activities taken from "Stretchy Library Lessons: Library Skills" by Pat Miller.  A great book if you can find it.

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