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November 27, 2011 / Sarah Ludwig

I’m thankful for teachers

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I hope everyone had a great holiday. After a full week off — and entertaining family — the reality of back-to-school is really hitting me on this Sunday afternoon. And I’ve got a crazy week ahead. Monday and Tuesday are booked solid with middle school English classes, Wednesday is devoted to upper school English, and then things calm down a bit on Thursday and Friday.

But I’m very excited, because those two days of middle school English are related to an experiment that the three MS English teachers and I undertook this year. After a full day of booktalking last Wednesday, the students went home for break with a simple assignment: read from their books for 30 minutes. Upon their return to school, the students may choose from one of four options for sharing their book with their classmates:

  • Create a glog, incorporating images and text
  • Make a digital book trailer, using either images or original movie footage
  • Create a mashup, either by putting your character in another setting or having a character interact with one from the class book
  • Write an original rap or song and either record it or perform it live

I can’t wait to see what the students come up with. Because I’m the Glogster administrator, I am starting to see their glogs trickle in, and they’re great. About half of the middle school selected our library books, most pulled from those I booktalked, while others selected something different. I’m planning to collect some of these projects online, to act as recommendation tools for other students. And I’ll share that here when I do.

All this brings me to my main point, which is that none of this would be possible without the cooperation of these three teachers. When I decided to focus on reading for pleasure as a major library initiative this year, I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s true that YA circulation has gone up just by virtue of having more new titles, putting books on display, and weeding out old books. But increased circulation isn’t enough. This project grew out of my desire to have students share their books with each other. How can you do that with middle school students who are booked solid from 8 AM to 3 PM and then go home? When I sat down with the English teachers and asked them if they could devote class time to this project, they said “yes” without hesitation.

I am very lucky to work with these people. And for all the other teachers who are open to new ideas and who trust me with theirs. From environmental science to Islam, teachers are trying new things. I can do my job because of them. More than anything, they care about engaging their students. The excitement that our teachers have about new technology and new projects is infectious and inspiring. So for all those reasons, I’m thankful for them, and for my school.

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