The Robin Hood Library Initiative
We all need inspiration and validation for what we do. Today I received this in spades when I watched the Ted Talk by designer Michael Bierut about his involvement in creating a logo for a Robin Hood project.
About a decade ago, this philanthropic organisation wanted to do something to improve the public schools of New York but didn’t have the level of funding required to update all the schools’ buildings so instead chose the place in the school that would reach the most students – the library! It’s called The Library Initiative and has redeveloped libraries in almost 60 schools in New York City.
These libraries look like places of magic and wonderment! And while I loved everything Michael spoke about, I was particularly struck by his theme of unintended consequences and how speaking with one of the school librarians about turning out the lights at the end of each working day became a touchstone of what unexpected consequences can look like.
I think it’s also a reminder that doing something we feel strongly about can bring unexpected consequences as a result of the action we take and how it may impact us personally. And I love that! Receiving of unexpected gifts.
If you want to see more of the libraries and their unique murals, you’ll find some at Environmeant.
Libraries: What we are, How we surprise, What we could be
I had so much fun putting together my recent contribution in Weve! It was one of the most colossal, creative and confronting pieces I’ve ever worked on. I felt a huge sense of responsibility to put something meaningful together and a huge sense of accomplishment at the end. However, I had stepped completely outside of my comfort zone and I was nervous. Had I nailed the brief? Did it make sense? Had I communicated my message, or just ended up being too obscure? I hope it says something to you and that it’s worth hearing. Then check out the other amazing contributions to the latest edition of Weve on Heroes Mingle.
Weve is one of the publications I mentioned in my recent post about professional reading, so I’m thrilled to have been invited to contribute to the latest edition!
This challenged, stretched, excited and frightened me, all at the same time! I’m so proud of stepping outside of my comfort zone and creating something new. I’ve always been a words girl, so parsing my words right back and selecting just the right ones with the right images to express my thoughts was definitely moving beyond comfort. I enjoyed the brainstorming that went along with this immensely! Thank you, Sally and Megan for inviting me to do this, and then actually using my little movie!
Here is another one of Cambridge High’s library manager Glenys Bichan’s fantastic initiatives. This time it’s combining a splash of food and a pinch of libraries with a bushell of people in a special concoction to become their inaugural Librarian Master Chef competition.
Five teams had to cook two courses based on the themes of books they chose. The teams were:
- Harry Potter-concocted “Mrs Weasleys Corn Beef” sandwiches.
- Percy Jackson, “Greek Burgers” complete with feta and olives.
- Alice in Wonderland had food coloured pasta in a dish called “The Chesire Cat”.
- Lord of the Rings made “Dragon Eyes” out of eggs
- And the winning team Winnie The Pooh made amazing “Poohs Honey Ginger Bread”.
Food preparation took place in the Food Tech Room and the judging panel consisted of the Deputy Principal, a maths teacher who happens to be an ex chef and the school’s head students. The Principal made a point of checking it out. (I imagine to get in on a bit of the taste test action!)
As if this inventive, creative competition isn’t enough in itself, Glenys as usual, is all about the business of people, as we discovered in her inspirational posting about the two Jaimees in her library. She sees events like this as her way of having input into the lives of her students, making memories for them of their time as part of her library team.
And it brings disparate groups together who might not otherwise associate. She witnessed potential head students working alongside autistic kids; beside students with significant illness; beside kids who have gained recognition nationally for their areas of giftedness.
In her own words: “We have the opportunity to really, positively impact the lives of these students in powerful ways! They loved it, and being the family they are laughed a lot – it was just a bit tricky stopping the year 10 boys tea towel flicking!
The food was stunning and the planning amazing – two weeks they plotted. They did so well. Jaime the Giraffe, of course came as well, only his team, which included me was disqualified!!”
Thank you from us all, Glenys!
Goodreads have great Halloween treats all week for those who are into a good horror to tingle the spine. However, it’s the two sentence horror story that has my mind turning towards writing activities for classes.
Wouldn’t this be a great idea to share with your English teaching colleagues? I know our boys would relish the opportunity to gross each other out by suitably horrific premises, and what an excellent opportunity to encourage them to investigate wonderfully descriptive words to convey their message. It also will teach them to be succinct in their choice of sentences and why each word matters.
Once the students have crafted their sentences they could each create a slide through Google Slides, such as the ones shown here (just love Justin Cronin’s work!), to publish their short horror story. Teachers could create a class presentation with each of the slides to share with everyone. Power-point would be an equally good presentation option for teachers who didn’t want to use and online option.
PS: This is a great Spine Poem with the horror theme supplied by Jan Cothier at Karamu High School in Hastings, which I just had to share
Also, Sally Pewhairangi has invited you to play along on her Finding Heroes Facebook page
I have been following Sally Pewhairangi’s 100 Days of Creativity project with great interest and yesterday was posting 100 of 100!
So Sally …….
What an amazing effort and commitment! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your little vignettes.
I totally love Sally’s concept for using Afterliff: The New Dictionary of Things There Should Be Words for by John Lloyd and Jon Canter to inspire creative writing. As a result of Sally sharing her idea I have purchased a copy of this dictionary for the school library and have shared the concept with our HOF English in the hope this might be a technique the English Department employs in engaging and encouraging boys to think creatively about words and language.
I think there are a number of ways this book could be used:
- Word of the Week 1 – choose a different word each week, display it in the library and invite students to come up with a meaning for it.
- Word of the Week 2 – alternatively, choose a word, display it with its meaning and invite students to write the funniest, cleverest, or most imaginative sentence.
- Library Week – either of these could work as a “word for the day” competition during library week celebrations.
- Class activity – Matching game: Select 50-60 words and type them on playing card-size cards. Then type the corresponding meanings on another set of cards and put them into sets of 10. When you have a class booked into the library, you could suggest teachers might like to group their class into teams of 3 or 4, give them a set of cards and challenge them to match the word with the meaning. If it’s an English class or a junior school class their teacher could then have them write a 100 word short story using one of the words, just like Sally did – 100 times!
I reckon there’s probably other ideas as well. If you think of one, why not add to this list in the comments below?
I am becoming increasingly aware of myself as a visual learner. This blog post from the wonderful Sally Pewhairangi is a great reminder of this for me.
This had a dual effect on me.
Firstly, I immediately saw the potential for English teachers to use this as an analysis tool for their class novel studies. The students could create their own key as to how to analyse the text, maybe as a plot summary or maybe as a way of charting use of language, or possibly even plotting a character’s movement or development during the novel. I’m sure there are other ways to use it too.
Secondly, it reminded me of why it’s so important to share your ideas with others, and how exciting it is to have new ideas sparked by others sharing their experiences.
At the end of last term we settled on a very simple idea to fill space above our fiction shelves and the ceiling so it didn’t look so bare.
Christine, one of our part-time staff had been processing the new Bear Grylls’ book A Survival Guide for Life: how to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character. She made an off-hand comment about how striking some of Bear’s sayings are that are scattered throughout the book. The ensuing conversation led to a brainstorming session which resulted in us deciding to create a series of posters with great sayings to inspire our boys.
I sent an email out to staff asking them to send me some of their favourite quotes they either use in the classroom or would like to use with students and was pleased with the response. I also trawled through ones I’d saved and others on some good websites and came up with 50.
After typing up the quotes we printed them on buff coloured A3 paper, laminated them and then stuck them up on the wall.
I was a happy librarian. But what has made me an ecstatic librarian was observing a Year 7 teacher using these with her class during the last five minutes of her library visits both last week and this week. She asked the boys to have a look and choose one that they liked or that they wanted to share with the rest of the class. She then gave them the opportunity to read out their chosen quote and invited them to share what it meant to them or what deeper meaning it might have.
Here are three they chose today:
My own personal favourite is:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
I want to make it a round 60 so I need another few yet. Have you got a special inspirational quote? I’d love you to share it here so I can find my final 10.
I just love those days when a colleague shares something and it sparks off an idea that makes your brain fizz and pop!
I just love the way it looks and works, with the pictures of the books and then hover over the picture to read the first line of it. So it got me thinking …..
I am currently working on creating a set of resources to support a new Y7 & 8 library and research skills programme that I’m developing at my new school. I have an absolutely fantastic group of teachers to work with here and the junior school staff are so willing to collaborate with me, welcoming me into their classrooms.
So when I saw this post I was immediately struck by how cool it would be to design a memory card game, using the covers of the books on one set and the corresponding first line from each book on another set. The students could then play the game by either matching the pairs correctly, or have them working in groups to decide which bo0k went with which first line.
In a slightly simpler version, I will use the same concept with book covers and authors names. Both of these ideas still require some fine-tuning and tweaking, but it’s simple, relatively easy to make and fun for the students, with the potential to incorporate a competitive element into it that all boys love.
So, a big thanks Desna and I would encourage everyone to keep sharing. It’s gold!