Sunday, 15 March 2015

Library Skills Session - Year 3-4's

This week I taught library skills to some of our Year 3-4 classes.  I had many things I wanted to cover but when I tried to fit them all in it was very rushed.  Here is what I ended up doing:
  • Introduced myself and talked about Esther, our library assistant
  • Pointed out our request book and explained that I want to buy books for our library that students like, and if they have a book they like that isn't in the library they can request it
  • Cleared up the misconception that our books are on loan for one week.  Our classes come every week so most of the students thought that that's how long they could have a book for.  Given some are moving on to longer books I wanted them to know that they could have them for two weeks.  We also talked about being able to renew books if they are still reading them after two weeks.
  • Asked 'How do we decide what letters to put on the spine of fiction books?"
  • Discussed the difference between fiction and non-fiction
  • Explained that we would be having a quiz and the winning team would be able to get one extra book out on their next class library visit.  I was about to share the information they needed for the quiz so they needed to pay attention.
  • Talked about our Fiction section and how students would be moving from our Quick Picks (early chapter books) to that section when they were ready.  Explained that our fiction section is arranged by genre, and used books from our Quick Picks section to describe what each genre was.
  • Got the teacher to put their students into five groups and then ran my quiz.  I picked a book from each of the different genres, summarised the key details and asked them to guess what genre it came from (while keeping my hand covering the genre sticker!).  They had time for a quick chat to reach a consensus and then I counted "3,2,1" and they had to hold up the correct answer from a set of laminated answer cards I had given them.
  • A couple of classes needed tie breakers - I asked them to guess how many books were in the library.

The quiz created a real buzz amongst the students.  They were all really engaged with it and got excited when they got questions right.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to work out an interesting way to teach the concepts.  I have a book which has a lot of library skills worksheets in it, but personally I don't find that at all appealing.  I remember seeing something once, along the lines of "would you like to be attending a class you teach?".  I try to keep that in mind because if I've only got 30 minutes with a class I think the way I teach is as important as what I teach.  I want students to have positive feelings about the library after having spent some time with me.

I think that as an introduction to the genres the quiz worked really well.  I covered a lot of information and the students didn't suddenly become experts, but it got them, and their teachers, thinking more about genre and that is something I'm happy with.  I wonder if I introduced this too early though.  The Year 4's were ready but perhaps next year I will do this later in the year when more of the Year 3's would be more likely to be considering moving from our Quick Picks to our Fiction section.

Other things I noted:
  • Our students at this age were still unsure about the fiction spine labels being the first three letters of the author's surname and many still got fiction and non-fiction mixed up.
  • Most classes got excited about getting an extra book out as a prize.  Yay for books! 
  • Showing the students Quick Pick books and talking about what genre they were in was a good way to show students what Fiction section they might like to try based on what Quick Pick books they were reading.  For example, I explained that the "Boy vs Beast" series is from the Fantasy genre and that when they were ready to read from the Fiction area they could try that genre.
  • It was really important to pick books from each genre that weren't ambiguous.  Initially I choose a book about the America's Cup from the historical fiction section and some choose sport as the genre (I gave them points for that and we talked about how some books could fit in more than one genre).
  • I had to emphasise that it was one answer per group and they needed to decide together what their answer would be.  In a few cases I would get a couple of answers being held up for the same group.
  • Some of the teachers were really interested in watching the group dynamics.  A strong personality could sometimes override the rest of the group's thoughts.
  • I found it interesting to see the differences in feel of the classes, some were definitely quieter, others particularly boisterous.  I wonder how much the teacher influences this, or whether it is just the personalities of the kids in that class?

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