English I & Inquiry Based Learning

Before beginning this post, I would like to say that I am forever grateful for Buffy Hamilton and her willingness to share (in depth) what she does with her students. Much of the inquiry based learning activities and written conversation activities I do are based on things she has so unselfishly shared with the world! This is why she is at the top of my librarian shero list!!

An English I teacher, Ms. Page, and I have worked collaboratively to create an engaging, inquiry based project for her English I students. Over the course of the semester, her students will use themes, archetypes and issues from their self selected reading books to completed inquiry based learning. After meeting a few times to talk about the goals of the learning experience, she and I began the project on Mon., Sept. 28th with topic exploration. Students came to the library with an umbrella topic and two narrowed down topics under that umbrella. I then taught them how to utilize the databases located on NCWISEOwl.org and we let them spend some time exploring their topics. This time is instrumental in helping students create good driving questions for their inquiry because they are able to spend time fleshing out their topics and seeing what types of resources are available. The topic exploration lasted two days and concluded on day two with students mindmapping their topics. These mindmaps included the two narrowed down topics. For each narrowed down topic, students were expected to:

  1. Find two resources/information sources (at least one had to be from a database)
  2. Include three facts/interesting things from each information source
  3. The search terms used to located each information source
  4. The title and location of each information source

These mindmaps helped students to visualize their search process and will be used to formulate their driving question for inquiry.

We will continue this project over the remaining months of the semester. Our next step is formulating inquiry questions and giving them time to research these questions. The outcome of this next step will be an annotated bibliography.

Project Documents:

​Student Example:



Focus on the Good

https://i2.wp.com/www.poorandpretty.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/focus-on-the-good.jpgI haven’t blogged since this summer. I’d like to say it wasn’t intentional, but it was. The beginning of the school year was hard – very hard, actually – for me. As thankful as I am that we are a 1:1 school, this advantage sometimes feels like a curse. The first few weeks of school were riddled with stress and technology failure, not to mention we had to be closed for 2 1/2 weeks! Not only did I have to give out 1,000 Chromebooks, I was forced to give our rising 9th graders the same devices they had in middle school. This meant hours of lugging heavy storage containers all around the library and lifting device after device as we had to alphabetize 300 of them. As if this wasn’t enough, we have major technology malfunctions; everything from updates not pushing through automatically to massive wifi failure. And the hardest part, people automatically look to the library for answers, and I had none.

When I think about the beginning of the school year and all of the stress I was under, I remember going home multiple nights in tears because I felt like I wasn’t serving my students and colleagues in the way which they deserve. Even though most of what was going on was out of my control, I internalized it all and blamed myself. This is why I didn’t blog – because I didn’t have anything good to say.

Now, looking back, I realize that in the midst of all of that bad, there were so many positive things happening. Teachers came to my aid, asking if there was any way they could help and praising me for my efforts. Students came to me repeatedly asking when the library would open because it’s their favorite place to be. My colleagues were excited to work with me to use technology and teaching practices that were new to them. In short, because I was so wrapped up in what’s wrong, I neglected to focus on all the things that were going right. The most important of these being that I get to go to work everyday and teach 1,100 awesome students who matter.

Call me idealistic, but I still want to change the world. And if it means that I have to have 10 bad days for every 1 good day, I’ll take those odds.


New NCSLMA Board Position

At the end of May, I was asked to become the NC School Library Media Coordinator Social Media Chair. Knowing that this position would hold a lot of responsibility, I asked my friend and follow librarian, Mollee Holloman, to co-chair the position with me. Together, we’re working to reinvent the face of the organization’s social media presence. We have revamped the blog with new columns and scheduled posts and created a monthly Twitter chat (#NCSLMAChat) that will begin on Sept. 24th. We are also the faces of the NCSLMA Twitter and Facebook accounts, posting relevant, timely information for members.

Our goal is to make the organization’s social media presence more participatory, by encouraging members to contribute to the blog and Twitter chats. The flyer below was used as our promotional kickoff to highlight the new changes for the upcoming school year.

NCDLCN, Here I Come!!

122356045I was recently accepted into the Friday Institute’s NCDLCN, which is an opportunity for me to learn more about being a digital leader at CCHS. This program focuses on four pillars: leadership and culture, content and curriculum, sustainability and evaluation and connected educators. Through my work with NCDLCN, over the course of the school year, I will have opportunities to build capacity in digital and personalized learning and acquire strategies and knowledge related to best practices in leadership, coaching and support of educators, students, and administrators at CCHS.

I am so excited to be a part of this network and all of the Twitter posts from the amazing people I’ll be working with this year are adding to my enthusiasm. This opportunity will give me a chance to do a lot of reflecting on my place as a leader in my building! Plus, Mollee was also accepted into NCDLCN, so we get to go on this journey together!!

Collection Development Webinar with ECU LIBS Graduate School Students

Each semester, at the request of my former Professor, Dr. Jami Jones, I agree to be a featured guest for LIBS 6018 – Collection Development. This course is one that all students at ECU’s Department of Library Science must take. Dr. Jones has numerous webinars during the semester to feature librarians from different institutions; academic libraries, public libraries and school libraries. Each semester she asks me to speak on behalf of school librarians. 

This webinar focuses on collection development within the school library setting. I prepare a presentation that outlines our school and my unique approach to collection development. I stress the importance of the collection in building an effective media program and outline my beliefs and practicing in developing the collection at CCHS. This is an awesome opportunity for me to teach and connect with future librarians. It’s one of my favorite things that I get to do each semester and I always look forward to it.

Dr. Jones is very complimentary of my presentations and always shares student feedback. Each webinar is recorded and this particular session can be found at: https://de207.sabameeting.com:443/GP/main/00000178e2ff0000014ec909c47e8f53.​

Written Conversations with APUSH

Once again, I’m lucky enough to work with my colleague, Kim Crank, on written conversations with her APUSH students. We use this instructional method to introduce them to primary source documents they will use to complete document based questions.

Mrs. Crank and I collaborated and planned a written conversation activity for her APUSH students. We used the write-around method to facilitate our written conversations about their document based question. Mrs. Crank invited me into her classroom the day before the activity to go over the purpose and process for written conversations. The following day, the students came to the library and participated in rich conversations about various types of primary source documents.

This instructional method/activity is a wonderful way to allow students to discuss and think critically about a variety of texts. By participating in a written conversation, all students are given an equal voice and generally feel much more welcomed to comment, ask questions and reply to the comments and questions of their classmates. The APUSH students did an amazing job with this activity and even had great oral discussion during our small group share. The feedback we received from the students was very positive. They loved that this activity led into actually writing their DBQ and they appreciated that they could see the correlation in both parts of the assignment. All of the students said that discussing the primary source documents in this way allowed them to analyze, synthesize and understand them better than if they were working alone.

Here’s a video of some of the students participating in the write around.
Here’s a video of some of the students participating in the oral small group share time.