Dr Seuss’ birthday is coming up on 2 March and I have Dr Seuss-based lessons planned for Library throughout the week. This will also be my first week with the students this year (hopefully) as I injured my foot a couple of weeks ago and am hoping for the go-ahead from my physio to go back to work in March!
EDITED 23/02/2021 TO ADD:Mary Verdun, a member of a Facebook Group where I posted the Stage 3 slideshow posted a link to the following paper which looks at racism, anti-semitism and orientalism in the work of Dr Seuss/Theodore Giesel. It is an interesting read and raises questions that I am thinking through and which may change my decision on whether to use these plans next week. The paper’s citation is: Ishizuka, Katie and Stephens*, Ramón (2019) “The Cat is Out of the Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books,” Research on Diversity in Youth Literature: Vol. 1 : Iss. 2 , Article 4. Available at: https://sophia.stkate.edu/rdyl/vol1/iss2/4.
For Kindergarten, I will be focusing on rhyme and onomatopoeia with the entertaining Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? Last year’s group seemed to enjoy this book and it is good to dramatise and use with a bit of call-and-response, which suits the younger As a reading response, I will be having them assemble and colour some flipbooks I found here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Flip-Book-for-Mr-Brown-can-Moo-Can-you-by-Seuss-Sight-Words-Vocab-FUN-2423162 . I think I will only choose 4 – 6 of the possible phrases because we don’t have a long time once we’ve read the story and students borrow. This will be my first meeting with this cohort of Kindergartners… I hope they like it!
Stage 1 will be listening to the madcap Ten Apples Up on Top and making a connection between the text and themselves. I was inspired by a worksheet I saw on Twinkl to create my own, simpler version (to suit my cohort and time availability) that can be used for various books.
Time willing, we will read The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins with Stage 2. I read this to Stage 2 two years ago and they seemed to engage with it, so I am hoping it will tickle the fancy of this year’s cohort as well. I was struck at the time with the juxtaposition of some beautiful descriptive passages with black and white illustrations (highlighted with touches of red). Therefore my focus tasks this year will be on visualisation and description – with a choice between drawing a hat and describing it OR reading a descriptive passage from the text, drawing a picture to match it, then highlighting the words and phrases from the passage that are evident in the picture.
Finally, I decided to go a bit more mature for Stage 3. We will be looking at a biography of Dr Seuss from the Seussville website and then at some of the politicsl cartoons that he created in the World War II era. You can find a good collection of these at the University of California San Diego Library Digital Collections site. I have created a slide presentation that can be accessed below. Hopefully this will not be too mature for the students and they will find it engaging to see a different side of a familiar author.
My school is working through the professional learning modules prepared by the NSW Department of Education to accompany the What works best: 2020 update published this year by the Centre for Eduaction Statistics and Evaluation (CESE)(2020). I found my reflections on certain areas – especially assessment and effective feedback to be tricky to complete because my library lessons are release from face-to-face teaching (RFF) and cover transitions to and from classes, borrowing/returning of library books and whatever lesson and learning activity I offer all within an hour. In my current model, the response activity to the lesson is not always done by all students (and certainly very rarely completed by all students) because browsing the shelves and borrowing is done at the same time as the response activity (to control traffic in our current small space).
I was especially thrown when asked what evidence I have for my impact on student learning outcomes. My initial answer was that I don’t really have any, but today I was thinking that I may have some data to show after all (offering somewhat indirect evidence).
This reminded me of my post from a similar time last year when I finally got the courage to check on comparative borrowing statistics between the year prior to my hiring and my first year on the job. My thoughts on evidence this year came from finding the courage to look at the records for previous years’ Premier’s Reading Challenge (PRC) completion to assess whether my efforts, which I deemed underwhelming, had made any difference to participation in Years 3 – 6. To my utter shock and surprise, I found that more Year 3-6 students had completed the challenge this year, compared to last year. Also, in both of my years of overseeing the challenge there were more Year 3-6 completers than in the three years prior to my arrival. I was feeling like a failure because I was comparing my efforts to promote the PRC with that of other teacher librarians at other schools on social media – when I compared myself with my own school context, however, I could see evidence of growth.
When I saw that data, I realised that data regarding borrowing patterns and participation in PRC and other literacy-based activities could be used as evidence of my impact on student outcomes. While not as direct as reading or writing test scores, data regarding students accessing and reading a variety of quality texts shows evidence of my impact on their literacy outcomes, especially if taken in combination with improvements in test scores.
So my main takeaways from this experience:
Don’t sell myself short – think creatively about how what I do contributes to learning outcomes.
Realise that the data and evidence I can show will be different to that of a classroom teacher – and that is okay.
Don’t compare myself and my school context to other school contexts, and don’t let myself feel like a failure by comparing my efforts to the successes of others.
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2020). What works best: 2020 update. NSW Department of Education: cese.nsw.gov.au
Hot on the heels of my feelings of triumph and competence came the creeping panic and overwhelming stress of the end of the year. Last Thursday, I had little stress flutters all throughout the day, which was not helpful when trying to accomplish the tasks that I assume were setting off these attacks. I am lucky that I work in a small school with supportive staff. Several times that day I was asked if everything was okay and help and support were offered to me. This was helpful on the one hand, on the other hand I felt like something must be seriously wrong for everyone to notice that I was so stressed out. I want to project the image of having it all together and being a source of support and assistance – not the beneficiary of it!
I guess my lesson for today is: it takes a village to build a library (and to build a librarian). None of us can be truly successful on our own – together we are stronger, better, and brighter. So, I am giving a shout out of thanks to the staff members who asked after me and offered their help on Thursday. I am also giving a big shout out to Lindy at Abbey’s Bookshop who helped me find some library award books on Friday – the time spent poring through the children’s section with her was deeply restorative to my soul and equilibrium. And today or tomorrow, I will also try to take a piece of advice given to me by my library assistant recently and make a list of what needs to be done. I did not really want to face everything in black and white, but I think I need to organise and prioritise my tasks to get it all done.
How are you handling the mad rush at the end of the year?
The time has flown by and here I am at my last day of my professional placement. It was time to wrap up the different activities I had done over the course of ten days and bid farewell to Sydney Uni Libraries.
My fellow placement student, Julie, and I finished our curriculum collection shelving improvements project and presented it to my supervisor and the other staff who had forwarded information from prior efforts to us. They gave some suggested tweaks but said it sounded like it was on target. We finished up the report and submitted it to our supervisors, who will take the proposal to the director.
I passed the affinity diagram themes that I had recorded from our map to my supervisor. He will merge that with the work he has done over the past week and call that phase of the project finished.
I also got to see some of the furniture that my supervisor had ordered for the Law Library and Fisher Library in situ and being used by students.
My supervisor gave me positive feedback and signed off on my evaluation and it was time to call things a wrap! Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back sometime!