Even on a weekend, my students and the Shaw library are never far from my mind. Sunday led me all the way to Worcester, MA where I attended the The Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) Conference. This conference was called “Future Ready” and focused on the work school librarians are doing to transform their own schools into places of fruitful learning. The morning started off with an inspiring talk from author A.S. King. Her own school library experience helped shape her as a writer, and she spoke to how much of an impact school librarians can have on students that otherwise feel excluded or different.
With King’s moving message resonating, I participated in a presentation titled, “Using Action Research to Improve Your Practice” alongside Boston Public Schools library colleagues. During this panel presentation, I talked about an action research project I have been working on in the library. Over the past few months, I collected data to see if reading selection influenced student story comprehension. I shared my findings in the hopes of increasing coherent school library teaching and learning access for students, and improving my own practice through the use of data. My research showcased active student learning in the library.
Lunchtime offered up-close and personal conversations with some amazing authors and illustrators. I was able to get an inside look at the creative processes of Mike Curato, Matt Tavares, and Lisa Yee.
I was lucky enough to be one of the few chosen to exhibit the Shaw’s vibrant library community and the foundational skills being built. Library teachers from across the state commended the work being done in our library and commented on how engaged our students seem in their work.
I accepted the President’s Award, which goes to someone "who has made an impact on student learning and positively contributed to their school in a career of five or fewer years as a School Librarian."
The evening concluded with a presentation by author and teacher Jennifer Casa-Todd. Casa-Todd spoke about how our role as educators is to embrace social media and inspire students to use it positively, making them digital leaders instead of just followers. The shared experiences and conversations I had with school librarians from all across the state allowed me to see all the positive work being done in the field. Speaking with my colleagues gave me some wonderful new ideas to try out in my own library space, and I am excited to see what the future has to hold for all of us in this field.
Blizzards and floods couldn’t stop us from celebrating one of my favorite times of the year - Scholastic Book Fair Week! The gym was transformed into a lively space filled with books, giving our school a chance to celebrate the importance of reading.
The difference between a disinterested reader and an engaged, enthusiastic reader is access to great books and lots of time spent reading self-chosen books. The fair gives our students a chance to browse and choose books for themselves. They are able to keep these books and call them their own, reading them over and over again. Being able to read books they actually want to read can ignite a passion for literacy. I truly believe that reading cultivates curiosity and opens a world of possibility.
Hosting the book fair takes a lot of planning and hard work, but it’s worth it to see the students falling in love with reading. I love seeing the excitement on their faces when they walk into the fair for the first time. In the end we made over $2,500! This is the most we have ever made in the history of book fairs at the Shaw. Thank you to everyone for being part of a successful book fair. It was wonderful to see so many families exploring the fair and choosing books. On top of hosting a successful fair in the school building, every single item on our online school wish list was purchased! Thank you to those friends in neighboring towns of Newton and Arlington who supported our school. We will be able to add some wonderful new books to the library collection. I appreciate everyone’s ongoing support!
Mrs. Keohane is the School Librarian at the P.A. Shaw. She loves hockey, going to the beach, and reading (obviously!)