Today's post is written by Denise Smith. Denise was a Children's Librarian for 5 years before she started working in her current position at an urban charter school. Denise is currently working on a school Media Specialist Certification. She's also a certified knit & crochet instructor. She teaches at a craft store and offers free lessons at an area library.
Denise has 4 grandchildren who are the light of her life and she's happy to share her love of reading, knitting and crocheting with them. She's also very proud of her 5 adult children who sometimes let her knit and crochet for them too.
I work at an Urban Charter School with students in grades K-8 and it’s often a bit of a challenge to get some of the students, especially those in grades 6-8 to check out books. I wanted to find a fun way to encourage all of the students to check out and hopefully read more books. So being that we are in Indiana, I came up with March Reading Madness. The way it works is for each book a student checks out they are able to take a shot at my basket.
I’m using a Nerf Over-The-Door Basketball Hoop Set that I bought a few years ago for a program that I held at a library branch. I bought two plastic basketball court tablecloths that I found at a Party City store. One table cloth covers a utility room door that is behind my desk and this is where I hung the basketball hoop. I used the second tablecloth to cover my bulletin board that is in the hallway. I added the title March Reading Madness and taped the typed names and grade levels of each classroom teacher to a cut-out basketball, also found at Party City. I printed numbers that are taped on the basketball with each class’s total points, which will be updated each week. I’ve created a ‘score sheet’ for each class. It lists the names of the students and I track the number of points they score as well as those who attempt.
We have our regular library lesson, students then return and check out new books and the last 10-15 minutes is spent shooting the ball. I choose one student to rebound and they stand behind my desk (a treat in itself) to get any errant balls that land near the basket.
I have the students who didn’t check out a book or those who don’t want to shoot, line up first. Then I call the others up one at a time to take their shot. An unexpected benefit has been the opportunity to discuss good sportsmanship. I remind the students to cheer for their classmates whether they make the basket or not. I’ve offered the classroom teachers the same opportunity, if they check out a book and take a shot, their points will be added to their classroom total. The staff members who are not homeroom teachers can donate their points to the class of their choice, but they too are required to first check out a book.
Of course the students want to know what the winner will receive. I will make a banner that they can hang in their classroom. It will say “March Reading Madness Champion”. I’ll include the basketball from the bulletin board with their teacher’s name and the total points they scored. To keep the concept of good sportsmanship going, I will also award a banner to the class whose students consistently cheered for each other and had a positive attitude. Both banners will also include a picture of the class and their teacher.
Another reason for increasing circulation is that my school library is part of a Shared System with the public library. How does it work?
School library items are cataloged and barcoded and searchable in the public library online catalog. School staff and students can see what's in the building, and request what they need if the school doesn’t own it.
Students use their public library cards to check out and request materials. The school library will make a copy of each student's card. If they can't find it or don't have one, they will make one.
Families help students learn to be responsible readers and library users. Families talk with their students about what they are reading. They get email notices when items are coming due. They can also check their child's account on the library website or can keep track of the receipts they get when they check out books.
We all know how important statistics can be. Increasing circulation numbers is always a goal. The first week of February students checked out a total of 54 books and the first week of March a total of 94 was checked out. I think the numbers will only increase! Getting the books in the students' hands is the first step to getting them to read.
Does your library do anything special for March Madness? Discuss with us in the comments!