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Practicum Log

Practicum Log

Ryn Lewis

March 23, 2011 – June 14, 2011


March 23, 2011, 10 am - noon

Hours: 2.00

Accumulated hours: 2.00

 I met with Heather Swift, who will be my practicum supervisor at Old Trail School over the next several weeks. The school is a private, independent school serving students from three years up through eighth grade, with an outreach program to toddlers.  We toured the library – a single library facility serves the entire school – and discussed scheduling and possible activities.  I will be working at the school two days a week through April and for the first two weeks in May, varied to accommodate both my work schedule and the school’s six-day rotation.  The goal is to spend time with many different age groups and observe several different types of classes at the school, which occur on different days.  I will drop down to one day a week in mid-May, due to the beginning of an Inter-session class, and finish off in June with a few days working on cataloging after the students are out for the summer.  We also discussed possible projects.  Ms. Swift very much wants me to hold story time for the Little Readers toddler group that will begin meeting on Thursdays in a few weeks, and she would also like me to prepare to tell folktales to the third grade students when they visit Hale Farm in a few weeks for their Pioneer celebration.  The CAISN (Cleveland Area Independent Schools Network) librarians will be meeting in early April to create a suggested summer reading list.  I will be working with both the preschool / kindergarten team and the ninth and tenth grade team to generate this list.


April 11, 2011, 3:30 – 5 pm

Hours: 1.5

Accumulated hours: 3.50

 I did not work at the school today, but did head north to the CAISN meeting, where I joined up with Ms. Swift and other independent school librarians.  We discussed several newer books we had read over the last few weeks with our teams, and determined the format of our entries for the reading list as an entire group.  I was able to recommend several for both teams, although we debated for a while over whether Amy Efaw’s After would be too controversial for ninth and tenth grade, and more appropriate for the eleventh and twelfth grade list.  I submitted my summaries for my suggested books.


April 12, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 10.75

 Today was my first full day in the library.  The school is enormous, and Ms. Swift suggested that we tour it in stages.  Today I toured the primary building and met several of the faculty and administration.  We talked extensively about managing volunteers today, as volunteers serve as a strong element to keep this library running.  Generally, this library has one to two parent volunteers both in the morning and the afternoon every day, who handle shelving, processing, and a lot of circulation, freeing Ms. Swift for other duties.  Ms. Swift demonstrated the handling and opening of a new book, along with how to process new books, and I spent some time with the volunteers working on these tasks.  The volunteers stated emphatically as we chatted that school librarians needed to cultivate their parents, and they had never felt welcome in their public school libraries, or in the public schools in general.  They felt that this was a failing on the part of the school more than on a lack of desire or ability on the parents to be involved, and encouraged me strongly to build a good parent volunteer program in my own school.


I also had the opportunity to observe Ms. Swift hold story time with several younger classes and teach an older class, and learned how to check books in and out using SirsiDynex.  We discussed the types of materials and books Ms. Swift generally purchases for the library; she frequently uses award lists to make her purchases, and has money in several different funds, including a birthday book club, for collection development. 


April 14, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 18.00

 Today I toured the middle school building and met several of the faculty and administration.  Ms. Swift held story time with the kindergarten students, which I observed.  She uses a fun little management technique involving Skoob, the Shelf Elf.  He apparently lives in the library’s dollhouse and watches the students for good behavior.  Classes compete against each other to see who can make the elf smile the most, and the winning class gets to host the library’s traveling trophy for the month.  I also discovered that reader’s advisory with small children is extremely difficult – it seems to often be about wanting a book they saw, which they don’t know anything about other than the color and perhaps the picture on the front.  While I have always recognized that knowing your collection is important, with children it is essential.  They want something very specific that you have to be able to recognize upon vague description, and they have neither the patience nor the time to wait while you figure it out.  I was a little hampered by my lack of familiarity with the collection, but fortunately was able to find a suitable alternative.

 Ms. Swift is familiarizing me with Titlewise, which she uses as a primary tool for developing the collection, and we discussed possible ideas for the bulletin board display in the story well.  Ms. Swift showed me photographs of several prior boards and prefers 3D components to her boards.  I will develop some ideas for this project this week.  I assisted at the circulation desk, and have been asked to work with the diversity teacher for her upcoming Heritage Week diversity celebration.  She would like to check out several picture books and novels to place in baskets in the teacher workrooms for them to read and borrow for use in classrooms.  She has also indicated that she would be interested in titles our library does not have, which she may be able to pick up at the public library.

 Ms. Swift and I discussed the different types of book bindings often listed on Follett and the merits and disadvantages of each, and she demonstrated basic book repair – page tears and splitting hinges.  All books returned from kindergarten or younger are examined before reshelving for damage and repaired as needed.  Students are allowed to come to the library during the two study halls, and she demonstrated the procedures for monitoring and student accountability.  She uses a blog to communicate with teachers all over the building and keep an updated record of students who have come to her for study hall.  We also discussed the upcoming Newbery project the fourth graders will undertake and talked about preparation for and components of booktalks that we will deliver during their classes in a few weeks to help them select their books.

 The highlight of the day was the opportunity to attend the fourth graders’ poetry coffeehouse.  They worked extremely hard to prepare, and took the occasion very seriously – I was impressed at the initiative they demonstrated because they ran almost the entire thing themselves, particularly in the opening where they invited guests in and served them while the teacher was greeting visitors in the hall.  The students had the opportunity several times to hold whispered conversations and make decisions on the fly about how to handle situations that arose for which they were not necessarily prepared, i.e. a parent wanting something they did not have, or running out of certain items.  Teachers and parents were invited to perform after the students finished their readings, and the event was thoroughly enjoyable and educational on a variety of levels.


April 19, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 25.25

 Today I observed the young threes story time.  I will be more involved in teaching and assisting story times in the near future.  I did do some reader’s advisory, both with these students and with some older students who came to the library on their own time.  I answered reference questions for students who were doing research work on the computers and helped with citations.  I discussed the bulletin board design with Ms. Swift, who helped me locate supplies for it and began work on it.  After noticing some errors in the cataloging of a book, Ms. Swift and I discussed procedures for downloading and changing a MARC record, and for recataloging and relabeling books if a mistake has been made.  I learned and practiced corner and basic spine repair for hardback books, and we discussed the pros and cons of book repair vs. repurchase or complete removal of a damaged book from the collection.


April 22, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 32.5

 Ms. Swift impresses me constantly with the sheer variety of opportunities, events and programs she creates.  Today I attended a monthly book club meeting designed for the parents of the students, although one attendee no longer has a student at the school.  This is a small group of women who meet one morning a month to discuss selected books they have been reading.  They have attended events together and had movie nights at members’ homes before.  Often their selections include both an adult book and a children’s or young adult book on the same theme; this month they read Forever and Tuck Everlasting, both about people who have accidentally become immortal.  I really appreciated the effort Ms. Swift makes to integrate the parents into the school community, and while I recognize that this is probably easier and more common in private schools, it is certainly necessary in the public schools as well.

 The school uses the Big 6 research method, and I created a very straightforward worksheet today outlining the components of the Big 6 and the questions students should ask at each step to serve as a research help for students and for teachers to assist their students with the research process.  I continued working on the Heritage bibliography, and worked at the circulation desk.  We also discussed iPhone apps – Ms. Swift is particularly partial to BookMyne, an app that offers a variety of functions through SirsiDynex that allows patrons to link up with their local libraries remotely.

 Ms. Swift and I rehearsed and performed “Who’s on First” for the fourth grade class, and also showed them one of the original Abbott and Costello performances.  They were then allowed to attempt performing it for each other.  We talked about why activities like this are beneficial to students, discussing their need to be exposed to a wide variety of writing and literature, as well as the need to experience fluent performance regularly.


April 25, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 39.75

 The morning was spent in the library at the school today.  Some mornings are quiet without classes, and we simply talk to students who come in, perform reader’s advisory and catch up on the tasks around the library that need to be done – shelving, repair, and so on.  I worked on components of the bulletin board in my spare time, and held story time with the kindergarten students.  I also reviewed the policy manuals.  We discovered that the library had two existing manuals, one that was very thorough but about ten or fifteen years old, and the other, which was newer but rather sparse.  I began work on reviewing and outlining the policies in order to work toward consolidating them for a manual update.

 In the afternoon, we left for Hale Farm.  The third graders have a Pioneer Celebration out at the farm every year, a culmination of a long study on early American history.  They learned folk dancing, visited with farm workers who carry out traditional craftsmanship as it was done historically, including glassblowing and blacksmithing, and had a late lunch.  I performed a tall tale about Cy Gatton, an Ohioan folk hero, and the cucumber vine that almost killed him.  While we often read stories in the library to the students, the chance to do a more traditional storytelling performance was a lot of fun, and the students seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.


April 26, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 47

 I observed an information literacy class today taught by the school’s part time librarian.  I was impressed at the knowledge and investment the students showed – in fifth grade, they are already mastering the various advertising tactics and logical fallacies present in print and media ads.  I am reminded again that shorter classes seem to be much more effective for both students and teachers – classes have a sense of urgency not present in a block schedule and both students and teachers seem to stay focused better.  Through the day, I performed routine library tasks, and had the opportunity to teach library skills to a young patron searching for a book in the collection.  We used the OPAC to find the call number, and with scaffolding, he was able to determine how to locate the book on the shelves.  Ms. Swift and I began discussions on how she manages the budget, and I am also beginning a collection development project using Titlewise.  Our fifth grade students spend every spring working on an intensive Social Studies project for their International Fair.  Each student is assigned a country, and the faculty has developed a list of several countries based on student input which do not have adequate or up-to-date resources in the library. We also discussed the Junior Library Guild, a monthly book club that Ms. Swift uses to bring less well-known but high-quality books into the collection.  She also uses this club to help develop sections of the collection with which she has less familiarity, like graphic novels.

 After school, we attended a Webinar on cataloging e-readers.  The biggest debate is apparently whether we catalog the e-reader as one unit with all its available titles listed as a contents note, or if each e-book is cataloged separately and all the books on the unit are checked out at the same time.  The dominant feeling seemed to be that the prior solution is best, and a more accurate reflection of circulation. 


May 3, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 54.25

 I was able to attend a department meeting today, in which one of the primary topics of discussion was the transition to interactive whiteboards for the elementary school in the upcoming year.  The technology team had explored several different options for making the transition, and while SmartBoard was the most desirable in terms of reputation and quality, it was also significantly more expensive.  Through the discussion, the question was raised as to what preservice teachers were being taught in colleges and universities.  I commented that during my undergraduate term, we were generally exposed to the SmartBoard software and hardware.  The purchasing team has decided to spend the extra money to purchase SmartBoard equipment and I will be developing some material that might be usable for an inservice to help elementary teachers utilize the software effectively, particularly in creating interactive lessons and converting older lessons to the SmartBoard.

 Several books have been purchased that specifically discuss reproductive and sexual health, and body image and issues for children and young adults.  The books are award-winning, illustrated in cartoon-style images, and use straightforward, child-friendly language to honestly answer common questions about sexuality and reproduction.  We have three, the youngest of which is listed as appropriate for four and up, the middle for seven and up, and the last for ten and up.  The books have raised some problems on several levels.  Since the library serves the entire school, all the books are accessible by children as young as three and four.  Parents have also complained about the content which is very explicit in both text and illustrations, including in the older books, a picture of a naked man and woman on a bed with the woman straddling the man. Ms. Swift and I have been discussing how best to handle these books, which are a valuable resource for teachers and children of the appropriate age, but are not necessarily appropriate for all the library’s patrons who currently have access to them.  Shelving the oldest of the books in the young adult section or the parent/professional collection is a consideration, and Ms. Swift has asked me to write an advertisement for the school’s newsletter explaining the content and suggesting potential uses by teachers and parents for these resources, which tie in nicely with the preteens’ visit with health professionals coming up in the next month.


May 5, 2011, 8:15 – 4:30

Hours: 8.25

Accumulated hours: 62.5

 Toddler story time started a few weeks ago, but my days have not yet fallen so that I could observe it.  I observed the Little Readers today, and will be teaching it next time I am with them.  I also held storytime with the first grade students today.  We read Heckedy Peg, a folktale, in honor of Mother’s Day.  Though it is often associated with Halloween, since it’s a tale about an old witch who steals a mother’s children, we talked about families a bit and the people who care for us.  The children had heard the story in kindergarten and were delighted to revisit it. 

 The second graders have been going through a book with Ms. Swift, one of the Fribble Mouse Library Mysteries.  Each chapter has had Fribble using a different library resource to try to solve the mystery of his neighbor’s strange behavior.  The children completed the book recently, and Ms. Swift and I have been brainstorming ways to assess the success of their instruction.  We decided that to be truly information literate, the children should be able to look at a question and identify the most appropriate resource to use to find the answer.  Then they should be able to use the resource to get the information they need.  I am developing a scavenger hunt to test their ability to do these things, which we will be giving them in the next week or two.  I completed the bulletin board in the afternoon, a reading promotional that ties into the CAISN summer reading list.


May 9, 2011, 8:15 – 5:00

Hours: 8.75

Accumulated hours: 71.25

 Today we reviewed the process for completing purchase orders, and spent quite a bit of time examining the budget and how Ms. Swift keeps her records and allocates her funding for the year.  She had quite a bit of extra money which will not carry over, so we discussed some additional options for using it and prepared purchase orders.  In the afternoon, I observed Ms. Swift teaching the Super 3 research method to the first grade class.  This is a simplified version of the Big 6, and was taught through a fun, interactive little story in which the first graders helped solve a desert animal’s problem through basic research.  The Author’s Committee met as well to determine who to invite to speak at the school next year.  Ms. Swift and I had already discussed this on a couple occasions, and I had mentioned that Patricia Polacco visited my school during my student teaching, and what a wonderful experience it was for both students and faculty.  Ms. Swift proposed the idea to the committee and they discussed possibilities for finding the additional funding her visit would require.  Since they were particularly looking for a speaker geared toward the younger children for this visit, and Ms. Polacco is elderly and may not continue to do school visits much longer, they decided to procure the additional monies and invite her for the fall.  I was able to discuss my experiences with her at the school and the nature and content of her presentation for my school in the past.

After school I attended a division meeting.  After an initial opening with all the staff, I split off with the elementary teachers.  This particular meeting discussed some plans for the following year in which I was not able to make any particular contribution, or cast a vote of course, but I was interested to observe the thoughtful way they approached current problems and developed solutions.


May 19, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 78.5

 Ms. Swift and I have commented several times that we enjoy the casual feel of talking about books we like in conversation.  We decided to use a similar approach to booktalking with our fourth graders.  While they were with us, we selected books we particularly liked, discussed them briefly and commented back and forth about why we particularly enjoyed them.  While this sounded like a good idea initially, I am not certain it was particularly effective, and would probably do a more structured book talk next time.  We also pulled book trailers from several places around the Web, which the children enjoyed immensely. 

 I held story time with the toddlers with a Bugs theme.  We read a mixture of fiction and nonfiction and did several interactive songs, including one with a puppet.  We ended with bubbles, which is a routine for them, and they each took home a bag of board books to read for the week with their families.  I repeated the story time, using some of the same material and some more advanced with the young threes class that came in a bit later, since they are studying flowers, dirt, bugs and similar things.  We also carried out the scavenger hunt for second grade.  While the concept was good, it will need to be modified in the future. It was discovered that while the second graders had been shown all the required skills, several of the online research skills they needed were not ones they had actually ever practiced.  They did not remember most of the specific online resources they needed, although they did much better using the print resources they had actually used in the past. I did have to redirect one student several times who chose to use his time looking up “naughty” illustrations in the dictionary and showing them to all the other students.


May 26, 2011, 8:15 – 3:30

Hours: 7.25

Accumulated hours: 85.75

 We held a tea party for the volunteers this afternoon, a wonderful little event that they look forward to every year.  Volunteers brought in snacks and treats and several organizers brought in fine china and fancy tea sets.  We decorated half the library with tablecloths, flowers and small gifts for the volunteers, and hosted them for maybe an hour to an hour and a half – it was a sweet, and I think much appreciated, way to thank them for all their hard work over the year.  I held several story times through the day, including a farm-themed story time for the kindergarten students.  Since I happened to have Mo the Monster with me that day, we ended it a little off topic with a performance of There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca, Ed and Adrian Emberley.  Ms. Swift dropped in at the end of it to play the lion that eats Mo, and the children enjoyed themselves so much that they demanded an encore.  I originally created Mo and the props as part of a preschool story hour, but it was extremely effective with the kindergarten students as well, and I will definitely keep it as part of my repertoire. 

 I also stepped in to assist in teaching research to the second grade class.  Ms. Swift had to deal with something in another part of the building and asked me to manage their class while she was gone.  They were working in the meeting room next door on a research worksheet.  It has felt somewhat unsettling at times to be back in a school without being officially a teacher, but I was pleasantly surprised at how natural it was to step back into the teaching/classroom management style role as it was needed.  Several children were having the same difficulty using the index, so I stopped them all and we discussed it as a class.  While many did not finish due to time constraints, as a whole they made progress and discoveries about using print resources that were beneficial.


June 13, 2011, 8:30 – 4:30

Hours: 8.00

Accumulated hours: 93.75

 School is over for the year, but Ms. Swift usually spends several days preparing the library for the following year.  The school does run a summer program/day camp so several children were in attendance.  Today we spent a lot of time cataloging new materials that had come in.  I pulled and compared MARC records, and spent quite a bit of time learning to enhance a MARC record for my specific patrons.  With input from Ms. Swift, I enhanced several graphic novel records, removing components that are not used by Old Trail, like AR numbers, and adding several others, such as contents notes for BONE graphic novels.  We cataloged some new reference resources, mainly dictionaries and almanacs.  The other major project we worked on today was preparing the periodicals for the following year. Ms. Swift does allow periodicals to be checked out and has a great system for cataloging them.  We created records for each periodical and sub records for each month’s issue, assigning bar codes to them.  Once we were finished, we were able to print the labels off in sheets and hide the records.  As the magazines come in, the only processing they will require is the unhiding of the record in the system and the attachment of the label already created for them.  I thought this was a brilliant, time-saving idea and will definitely be using it if it is appropriate for my job setting.


June 14, 2011, 8:30 – 4:30

Hours: 8.00

Accumulated hours: 101.75

 My last day at Old Trail was, I admit, a bit sad.  However, we were too busy to be terribly nostalgic.  We continued cataloging and finished the magazine project.  Ms. Swift pulled quite a few resources from the back room where they had been awaiting cataloging.  We cataloged those and also weeded the professional collection extensively.  I had examined some weeding issues earlier in my practicum looking at the space collection for outdated references to Pluto, but never really got a good feel for how to decide what to keep and what to remove.  Today was a much clearer experience; we were able to talk extensively as needed about books.  We discussed things like the cover, the date, the content, how to market resources that looked useful but were not circulating, and similar questions.  I discovered sometimes it is still a good idea to weed a book, even if it seems to be a good book.  If it is not appropriate for your patrons, not moving, and has nothing particularly marketable to your patrons about it, it should be removed.  By the end of the day, I was much more comfortable with the need to remove materials and had a good feel for how to go about doing it when necessary.  I will be practicing those skills this summer on my own collection before I move, which has swelled to outrageous proportions and is becoming too costly and space-consuming to continue moving around with me.