I know there are school librarians out there who feel as if they are isolated in their library, teaching classes alone, lamenting over the fact that the lessons would be so much better if only you could collaborate with the classroom teacher to make the learning more authentic. If you are one of these librarians, I have the perfect solution for your school: The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project from Columbia University. If you haven’t heard of this incredible project and have some free time on your hands Saturday, March 28, 2015, head over to their free Saturday Reunion to get an idea of how this project will transform the role of the school librarian and the classroom teacher.
Our Library Before Embracing the Reading Writing Project
Before our school was introduced to the Reading Writing Project, teachers would drop their children off at the library so I could teach them how to use nonfiction text features, how to conduct research, and how to find the perfect book during a weekly 30 minute session. Every week, I hoped that the lessons learned would be carried over until we met again the following week, but realized that the lessons taught in isolation were not very effective.
Now That We are in the Thick of It
Now that teachers have embraced the Reading Writing Project, both teachers and children are passionately interested in reading books, and they are excited to share what they are learning from the Reading Writing Project. Kindergarten children are writing their own research stories as they study objects in nature and describe what they see. First grade children can easily explain what text features can be found in nonfiction books and on online resources and how these features can be used to find answers to their questions. Second grade children are working on research projects that can make a difference in their lives and they are expressing their findings through their writing. But the best part of all of this for me, the school librarian, is that teachers are asking me to work with them on projects.
I love working with teachers and their children. I learn so much from all of them, and I appreciate the true collaborative effort that takes place as we plan and implement student directed projects. The latest project that was recently published was a Pen Pal writing project in the form of an eBook by first grade children to their friends in China. To create this eBook, the class followed the Writing Project’s Informational Writing Unit of Study. The children brainstormed what the book would be about, what chapters the book should include, what pictures would support the text, and what other features could be added to make the book interesting. Each child worked on their own page, and when they were ready to take pictures, type, and narrate their work, they were given iPads to begin working with the Book Creator app. They presented their book during Digital Learning Day, explaining the writing process and teaching the audience how to create their own nonfiction eBook. The children were so proud of their work, and to this day, they want to keep sharing what they learned to anyone who wants to listen! Below is a link to their published eBook, shared in the form of a movie for easy viewing. The Book Creator app also lets you share the book in an ePub format as well as a pdf. Enjoy! First Grade Pen Pal eBook for Friends in China