When I was an eighth-grade English teacher, I often lamented about the limited logic skills of thirteen-year-olds. Here in the library, I’m finding intriguing ways of introducing logical thinking into the activities of my littles. (You are welcome, their-future-middle-school-teachers). My newest venture is Coding Club, using MIT’s Scratch and a Harvard-created Creative Computing Curriculum. Thirty-two 4th and 5th grade students have signed up to explore computer programming with me for an hour each Wednesday after school.
Today we began the journey and I had as much fun as they did. We watched the introductory videos and then we created accounts and design journals. The best part about the curriculum is the comparisons made throughout to the writing process. When you program, you brainstorm, research, experiment, and debug (edit and revise) – sounds just like the writing process! They are so excited, they forgot their passion for being on the chromebooks and began (hand) writing in their newly-decorated design journals. They defined what they think Scratch is and began brainstorming some ideas.
Welcome! Years ago, I started this blog as an assignment during my school library science program. Fast forward, this is the fall of my third year as a school librarian in Rockville, Maryland. I’m just starting to feel like my head’s above water, but I often feel like no one really understands all the things a school librarian does. Not even the people in my own school. This Friday, I attended the Maryland Association of School Librarians annual conference. Being in a career where there is only one of me in the building, I always come back from librarian gatherings energized and full of great ideas. This time, I came back with the determination to blog our library and show off the great things my littles are producing.
Next week, my fourth and fifth graders and I embark on a coding club based on MIT’s Scratch web-based software and I invite you to join us on the journey, with other library tidbits along the way. This is definitely not your parent’s library anymore. Librarians Andrew Plemmons and Matthew Winner, and author Nikki Grimes were the keynote speakers at Friday’s conference. Mr. Plemmons emphasized how important it is for students to have time to tinker. I agree, and in this blog you’ll get to see the ways I’m trying to give my littles time and space to do just that. Ms. Grimes left me with the hopeful concept that gun control may not be the answer, but stories may be. Ms. Grimes’ spoken voice was as hypnotic as her words, “Stories that help readers find meaning in their lives … Our path to [our] experience are unique, but their sameness at the core make compassion, sympathy, empathy possible. We desperately need all three.” I’ve been on a small quest to find children’s books from the voices of many cultures, and plan to put my discoveries here.
Matthew Winner, a fellow Maryland librarian, is someone full of fantastic ideas and someone I’ve admired for a while – although at times he exhausts me by all he does. Thank you, Matthew for your reminder: to eat an elephant, you take one bite at a time. Matthew was the end-your-day keynote speaker. He spoke of just how much there is for littles to learn. So much information, so many facts and ideas. There just isn’t time to fit it all into any curriculum. Libraries are the space where students can pursue their passions, in both low and high tech ways. Matthew’s quote is now my new slogan when I plan with teachers, “We are Time Lords, we can buy you time.”
I chose Enchanted Librarian simply because libraries enchant me. It’s a fabulous way to spend your career – enchanted!