How to design a library that makes kids want to read

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.

Robin Hood Library , New York NY , Richard H Lewis

The Library Initiative 2

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.

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Shades of Black in Libraries

Libraries: What we are, How we surprise, What we could be

shades-of-black-pptx

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. 

New issue of Weve available!

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!

Heroes Mingle

Read more Click on the image to open Weve

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Recipe for making library magic

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.

ch-masterchef-1

Five teams had to cook two courses based on the themes of books they chose. The teams were:

  1. Harry Potter-concocted “Mrs Weasleys Corn Beef” sandwiches.
  2. Percy Jackson, “Greek Burgers” complete with feta and olives.
  3. Alice in Wonderland had food coloured pasta in a dish called “The Chesire Cat”.
  4. Lord of the Rings made “Dragon Eyes” out of eggs
  5. 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.  

ch-mc-jaimeeIn 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!

Two-Sentence Horror Story

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.

Two sentence horror Justin Cronin

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.

Two sentence horror Kendare Blake

Spine Poetry Jan Clothier

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

Hope you didn’t experience an “Arbuckle Junction” moment, Sally!

I have been following Sally Pewhairangi’s 100 Days of Creativity project with great interest and yesterday was posting 100 of 100!

So Sally …….

Congratulations

 

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.

Afterliff

 

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 activityMatching 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?

Visual Pathway to Analysing Texts

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.

FINDING HEROES

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE LOVEMATCH

Contender for the World: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.
My Verdict: I was expecting to be swept off my feet by the ‘Queen of Romance’ but was terribly disappointed. A bit too homely for my liking.

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