Welcome to the SJS Library!
The St. Joseph Catholic School library is located on the first floor of the middle school building. SJS serves K3-8th grade students, and every student visits the library once per week. Library enrichment classes are 40 minutes long. The library collection consists of over 14,000 books, and the library has desktop computers, iPads, a SMARTboard, AppleTV, and access to numerous eBooks and online resources. Below are a few pictures of the library:
The library was renovated about 10 years ago so we have two rooms - one side is used for class time - we have seating for 24 students, the other is a multi-purpose room. Students use the library for tutoring, projects, and just relaxing on the couch!
Preschool 3 & Preschool 4 classes
The goal of the K3 and K4 library enrichment classes is to help them enjoy the library! Every class is designed to reach the whole child and encourage a love of reading, language, and the library. Each preschool lesson introduces children to stories, characters, and expands students' vocabularies and imaginations. They are taught library organization, parts of a book and book care, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and much more. We focus on comprehension skills, sequencing, making inferences, and higher order thinking - without them even knowing it! Whether we are singing, doing yoga, puzzles, making Mardi Gras masks, having penguin egg races, going on a scavenger hunt, or just coloring, the library enrichment activities develop students' fine and gross motor skills along with the benefits that come with being surrounded by and exposed to literature. Many of the lessons are designed to expand the application of their classroom lessons - we read books that correspond with the letter of the week, or the color, or the unit they are covering. Anything to reinforce what the wonderful K3 and K4 teachers are exposing them to. I love when the little ones come visit the library because it is all about FUN!
Once students reach kindergarten, they are comfortable in the library and they are ready to start checking out books! This is very exciting for our students and they take it seriously. The first few weeks of library time is spent discussing the rules of the library and reminding them about the importance of book care and how to treat books with respect. K5 does many of the same lessons as the preschool classes, but with more in-depth lessons and activities. Many K5 lessons are designed to tie-in to the lessons they are doing in their classroom. K5 students are really beginning to engage and think deeply about the books we read and we have had some wonderful discussions this year. It has been so fun to see their minds working hard and coming up with big ideas and (some hilarious) thoughts! They are amazing.
First graders are on the verge of independence and, as we reach the fourth nine weeks, are beginning to be able to handle more and more freedom. The first half of the year in first grade is spent learning how to use the library. We talk about how the library is organized, we practice alphabetical order, and discuss why the books are arranged that way. After the holiday break, first grade starts participating in the Accelerated Reader program. They learn what their level is and begin to be able to choose books in that level. We spend a lot of time in the library choosing books and getting comfortable on the computers so they can take AR tests. They will be expected to be able to use AR independently as they start second grade, so it is essential that they practice now. This week, first graders will begin using the library stations during their enrichment time - correction, they will begin to learn the rules and procedures of library stations.
Second - Fifth Grades
Library Stations. Please read this post to learn more about how and why I use Library Stations.
Second grade is allowed to check out two books at one time, but one of their books must be on their AR level. They must always have a book out that they can test on. Their "fun book" (I don't love that they call it that) can be any level, any topic they choose!
6th - 8th Grades
When we have a chance middle school does library stations, too, and it works well for them! Most days with middle school, however, are spent on specific skills or doing research. We started the year with print resources - making sure they know where to find things in the library and how to use the books efficiently. We spent several weeks on the Dewey Decimal system and non-fiction text features. We did scavenger hunts to find the books, and then spent time using the text features to find information. From there, we moved to online resources. We talked about boolean operators, how to put together an effective search, then we spent several weeks analyzing websites for reliability and trustworthiness. Next thing we knew it was time to start research for Science Fair! This was the perfect opportunity for them to practice the skills we had been working on and for them to use our online research databases.
Middle school will finish the year with several weeks of library stations mixed with discussions about being responsible with their online footprint.
Library Stations. This is the crux of my library program, and it is working wonderfully! I have split the year into four-week units. For each unit, I have planned library stations that correspond to the unit and reinforce library and literacy skills or any other skills I want to focus on. Library stations allow the students to actively apply the skills and concepts that we discuss in the library, or those they are discussing in their classrooms. The beauty of library stations is that they can be anything! One of the most popular in our library is the origami station. It's not specifically a literacy center, but the students are reading and following complicated directions, working through an unnatural task that does not work if each step is not completed exactly, persevering when there is a mishap, focusing, concentrating, and, eventually, succeeding!
Examples of library stations in my rotation:
Each station has its own rules and clean-up procedures. Signs that specifically outline these are posted at each station and students are expected to read these rules each time they start at a station. I pull popsicle sticks with numbers on them to let students choose stations in a random order. They know that if they have done the Lego station in the last few weeks they can't choose it to allow someone else a chance. I have a grade book in which I keep track of the stations each student chooses from week to week.
1) Lesson and discussion (5-7 minutes)
2) Students choose stations (2 minutes)
3) As soon as they have chosen their station, students leave their seat and do any book checkout/renew/check in that they need to do BEFORE they go to their station. This allows them all the time they need to find their books - some kids don't like to be rushed.
4) Station time (25 minutes) - students are expected to be actively engaged in their station. They must stay at their station for the entire station time.
5) Clean up (2-3 minutes) - I use an online timer that is displayed on the SMARTboard, so students can see it at all times. As soon as the timer goes off, they clean up and go back to their seats. Once I check the stations to ensure that they have been cleaned satisfactorily, students line up at the door and head out.
Is station time loud? Yes. Is station time chaotic? Sometimes. Do they love it? Yes!
The SJS Library is a gathering spot for students. Whether checking out books, in library enrichment, getting tutored, or just hanging out, falcons are always welcome in the library!