Yesterday, I had my last school visit of the year. I’ve learned a lot through a year of book talks, and get a sense of closure from having the first and last classes I visited this school year be the same. One tool I’ve started using in middle school classrooms is Kahoot!
If you’re unfamiliar with Kahoot!, it’s a free online platform that lets you create multiple-choice quizzes that students can answer on a computer or mobile device. (There are other options for quizzes and games you can create, but I haven’t explored those yet.) Every student at the local middle school has a Chromebook, which is perfect for Kahoot! After talking about books I think the students will like, I tell them about the library’s online resources and upcoming programs. A Kahoot! quiz on our eBooks and events is a great way to see how well the students were listening (and how well I presented!), and to get them more involved in the presentation. In my opinion, the more interactive a class visit, the better! It helps that the teachers use Kahoot! here, too; just say “Kahoot!” and the kids all know what to do!
Tonight, before we Skype with YA author Stephanie Garber at the library, I’ve prepared a Kahoot! with trivia about her book, Caraval. There are so many ways to use Kahoot! to spice up a presentation or host a trivia night.
Do you use Kahoot!?
One of my favorite parts of my job as a teen librarian is partnering with local schools to promote a love of reading for pleasure. During my school visits, I always tell students how they can get a library card if they don’t already have one. Recently, however, I’ve been working with teachers and department heads at one of the local middle schools to provide eCards for all of their students.
eCards allow students to access several of our digital platforms — Axis360, hoopla, OverDrive, Freegal, and Freading — using their student ID number as their library card number. While a full library card (which all students in our community can get for free) provides access to these resources as well, eCards expand access to eBooks and audiobooks for those who need it most: the ones who can’t get to the library to sign up for a full card. I am so excited to bring these resources to our students!
If you’re thinking about setting up a similar partnership, here are some things to consider:
- Who is your contact at the schools? In order to make the eCard program a success, I had to have buy-in from the head of the English Department. We had several meetings to work out the details, and when we were ready to go live, I was invited to present the resources students could access at a meeting of all the school’s English teachers.
- What will the logistics look like? How often will new students be added to the public library’s system? How often will those who leave be removed? Does every student have an ID number? Are all student IDs the same number of digits? Our Collection Services Manager had to work with our vendors to ensure students’ information could be added to our system so they could log in to our digital platforms.
- How will you tell students about it? In addition to promoting eCards on our website and social media, I have been talking up these digital resources when I visit classes and showing students how to use them.
We’re still in the early stages of using eCards, so I’ll have another post later with an update on how things are going. In the meantime, if you have any questions about starting a program like this at your library, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
I just returned from my first day of book talks at one of the local middle schools. I’ll admit, going into this, I was really nervous. I am not a public speaker. And I had to talk to a full class of seventh and eighth graders. For forty minutes. Six times in a row.
And it. Was. AWESOME!!! These students were respectful, engaged, and asked great questions. They liked hearing about books to read for fun, and about our digital resources (Freegal was really popular, and the teachers were all pushing Tutor.com along with me). Working the Information Services desk, I don’t often get to interact with teens who are excited about reading; those who come for a book usually know what they want and find it themselves. So seeing them give enthusiastic thumbs-ups to the books I brought was awesome.
But more than getting teens excited about reading, book talks are the most effective outreach I’ve ever done. I got to talk up the library to 130 teens who were a captive, engaged audience. Those students now all know me as the teen librarian. They’ve talked with me, and will (hopefully) be comfortable approaching me at the library. They know about our programs, and left class talking about game nights and edible bugs (yes, we’re having edible bugs at an Eat Around the World program in a couple weeks). Even if only ten percent of them come to these programs, that’s thirteen teens I hadn’t seen at programs before.
And, book talks gave me a chance to meet some awesome teachers! I had an opportunity to show them some of the library’s resources that can help their students. And when I found out about a series their students like that we didn’t have at the library, I was able to tell the teachers and the students that we could get those books. Two teachers even offered extra credit to students who show them their public library card. And hopefully, these teachers will vouch for me when I want to visit their colleagues’ classes.
If you’re a youth librarian, and there’s a chance for you to do book talks at your local schools, I highly recommend it. It’s a great way to build or strengthen partnerships with educators, and to show a lot of students what the library has to offer them. Plus, it’s just really fun to meet and talk with the students you might not already see at the library.