I always wish I could be a multiple places at once when I go to these conferences. It’s always so hard to decide what to go to! These are the sessions I got the most out of:
Early Literacy: What’s it all about? Helping All Children Enter School Ready to Learn to Read
I’ve read Saroj’s books and used the ALA early literacy tool kit and feel fairly well versed in Early Literacy, but it was good to hear Saroj speak as there are always new things to learn. One of the new things that I learned about during this session was the release of the revised Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards and their alignment with the State Common Core Standards. There are Birth to Three Learning Standards, and Early Learning Standards for 3-5 years. While the standards themselves are long and technical to read through (147-170 pages!!) reading through them reinforced my understanding of early childhood development, and further grounded my understanding of the principles behind the Every Child Ready to Read Program. In some cases I also gained a better understanding of how to incorporate some of the standards into what we are already doing. For example the importance of including non-fiction materials in storytimes has been a re-occurring theme in the professional literature lately. Reading the Goal, Learning Standards and Example Performance Descriptors for non fiction materials gave me a better idea of how to effectively include an informational text in a storytime and a better understanding of the type of questions to ask and the type of interactions to try to facilitate. (Goal 3, on page 35 of the early learning standards http://www.isbe.state.il.us/earlychi/pdf/early_learning_standards.pdf)
The entire website is a wealth of information. I found the parent videos to be particularly helpful and much easier to wade through than the official documents. The videos help make some of the technical concepts more accessible and much easier to understand. They do a great job of demonstrating and explaining the different types of learning that takes place in different situations and furthered my understanding of learning through play. (Play in another topic that is currently prolific within the professional field) In addition to demonstrating effective interactions with young children, the videos also include links to additional resources—and these additional resources are another wealth of information. There’s just a ton of information and ideas collected here. (There were several videos that utilized old boxes and have me wanting to do a “Not a Box” play program. It would be so fun to do one of those after Christmas when people tend to have a ton of boxes around the house!)
The state standards are a good reference resource and should be taken into consideration when planning and thinking about early learning spaces, programs and services. The standards provide a foundational framework for understanding child development for children 0-3 and 3-5.
A few other tid bits that I liked from Saroj’s presentation:
· She has stopped using the term emergent because literacy is not something that just emerges—it has to be taught!
· While not a fan of AR or Lexile numbers, she has used them to successfully sell picture books to parents who are pushing their children away from them because they’re “not hard enough.” Noting that a picture book has a challenging AR/Lexile level has helped her convince parents to let their children continue to read picture books.
I really enjoyed some of the poster sessions and exhibits as well.
Gressco Children’s Furniture: I liked some of the furniture and manipulatives available through Gressco Children’s Furniture. They are a company I was previously unfamiliar with. http://gresscoltd.com/
Interactive Library Tours: While this poster session was actually about tours done on a college campus, I thought the general construct could be replicated in a public library setting and used with a variety of ages. For the tours they broke the kids up into groups and gave each kid a notebook and a pen, and asked them to make a list of things in 3 categories while they toured the library. The categories were ‘Duh’, ‘huh’, and ‘Where is the?’ So when the students saw things they expected to see on the tour, they noted it in the ‘Duh’ column, when they saw things that they were surprised to see on the tour, the noted it in the ‘huh’ column and if there was something they didn't see but want to know where it is they noted it in the ‘where is the?” column. After the tour the groups compared their answers. On some level it kind of reminds me of Rachael's comment about the Lincolnwood Graffitti wall where the kids were asked to write “What can't you do at the library that you would like to be able to do” I liked that the tour engaged the kids and prompted them to ask their own questions while also letting the librarians know more about what expectations and preconceptions the students came to the library with. Some mash up of these ideas may be a effective way to get feedback from kids and teens about our programs and services for the next strategic plan. (We’ve discovered that having kids fill out post program surveys yields very little relevant information! )Creating STEM Based Circulating Science Kits Through Local Partnerships
- I like the idea of providing circulating science kits. Although they can be an expensive initial investment, they have been well received in the libraries that have them and it’s a good way to provide STEM support without having to know a ton about science. They suggest looking into partnerships with local technical schools and universities both for funding and for ideas about how to create a kit. Our local contact for IEEE is email@example.com. (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)
- Funding can also come from grants and FOL groups and STEM grants.
- A good resource for developing Science library kits and programs is: www.starnetlibraries.org
- IEEE partnered with Mount Prospect Public Library to develop circulating science kits and established library processes and procedures for the kits. A detailed description of the kits can be found here.
- Here is some basic information about the kits taken from the above linked manual:
o Each kit comes with information and equipment to perform science activities. Kits are limited to MPPL cardholders and circulate for three weeks with holds and renewals allowed.
o Each kit includes a binder of background information and/or instructions for experiments.
o Some of the kits include parts that periodically need to be replenished; the
library covers the costs of these parts and materials. For example, the straw rocket launcher kit comes with straws and note cards that the library provides.
- The Kits range in price averaging about 100$ per kit.