Reading Challenge – Promoting a Reading Culture

I’ve had a couple of requests via Instagram and Twitter to explain my 2017 Reading Challenge. This reading challenge started as a way to increase reading on my campus and hopefully facilitate growing our reading culture.

Background on Reading Challenge

In December, Carol Richmond the awesome librarian at Wilson Elementary, sent out an email about Reading Challenge that she was sharing with her staff. I loved the IDEA and quickly decided to adapt it for my high school students and teachers!

The challenge is to read outside of your normal reading¬†zone. For my high schoolers, the challenge is to just get them reading! I also thought it would be good to challenge our teachers to read and share what they are reading on a regular basis. I’m planning on sending out a monthly email recapping what I read for the month and reminding my teachers of the different reading categories (and reminding them to submit reading responses via a Googleform on my library page.) My method is to pretty much hassle everyone to read all the time. ūüôā

Here is a list of the categories (updated from Mrs. Richmond’s form to include high school reading materials like the¬†TAYSHAS and Nerdy Book Club¬†winners.)


My first display is below, and I’m brainstorming ways I can update the Reading Challenge display by month… so if you have any ideas, let me know! I’m currently thinking of choosing a category ¬†(recommended by a student) and making the whole display about that category. Plus I’ll update the “Reading Challenge” signage.

For this first display, I’ve included lots of categories and labeled what category each book will fill on small laminated speech bubbles.

I was hoping to make our Google Form for submitting reads more accessible by creating this QR code bookmarks. For teachers, reminding via email seems to work the best.

Submitting Reads

For students, I’ve also got the link to submit books open on a Chromebook right next to our dropbox. (Which also happens to be a Makey Makey Minion)

Promoting Reading and the Library

Favorite Books?
Another idea I’ve had for promoting a reading culture is to take¬†pics of teachers and students reading their favorite books and posting these¬†around our campus. Or maybe rotating “Currently reading” slides on our Google Slide announcements.
I think small quick displays seem to work the best for getting students to pick up new books. So I’m excited to copy this idea from The Daring Librarian for the “student recommendation” category for the next Reading Challenge Display.
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How do you promote a reading culture in your library?

Research, Google Classroom, and Libraries

Reader Request: One of my readers, Christina, asked how our teachers are using Google Classroom, so this post is dedicated to answering your question, Christina! Thanks for asking!

christina commented on A Library AND a Makerspace

Recently I read an article discussing how libraries are converting to makerspaces. I found this wording dangerous because I …

I was recently referred to your blog by a co-worker and I am really loving all that you are doing. I’m wondering if you have any elementary peers who are also whipping up a little maker magic for the littles? I’m also interested in how your teachers are usinggoogle classroom. Perhaps a future post in the making?

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I LOVE Google Apps for Education. Last year, I attempted using Google Hangouts to track major projects like our LEAP student Global picture books where we Skyped with students around their culture. ¬†My 7th graders last year did some live author hangouts with Claire Legrand and Lindsay Cummings during Mr. Wacker’s Dystopia Unit.

But one of my absolute favorite ways to use Google is for paperless classroom activities. I’m hoping to eventually get all of my teachers buy-in on using Google Docs for taking notes when researching. Last year, while Google Classroom was still very new and very shiny, we used Doctopus to make copies of Googledocs Cornell note style. I taught the students how to color code source by changing the text color. This alone made online note taking a dream, but I loved that I could also hyperlink a pathfinder I’d made in S’more. The pathfinder was designed to help direct students to our online databases and give them tips on searching the databases more effectively. Read more about the whole process here.

Last year my 8th graders also embarked on an amazing PBL based on the All Songs Considered Podcast. Their teachers and I created a landing project site for them in Google Sites and we used Sites Maestro to create individual Google Sites for all of the 8th graders.  The students then blogged about music and eventually wrote, recorded, and uploaded their own podcast. You can see the whole collaboration process on this Tackk and read more about the All Songs PBL on this blog post.

At my new school, students are just now getting into utilizing Googledocs and Google Apps for Education.  Because of this, my ITS Leslie and I attempted teaching the bulk of our freshmen how to use and collaborate with Google docs and Google Slides at the beginning of the school year.

As English teachers came in to plan with me this year, I originally showed them this Googledoc I’d used in the past, but I quickly updated it to the new and improved “color-coded by table” Google doc made by none other than the #superlibrarianhubs, Aaron Graves. ¬†(Follow Aaron on Twitter)

Color Coded Googledoc3

Aaron’s document actually makes much more sense to students. Plus, it is more comfortable for teachers who still cling to hand written notes since the table organizes all of the notes together with the correct source. I share the document with the teacher and the teachers “Create a Copy” for each student in Google Classroom. Google Classroom is pretty awesome because it creates a folder in the teacher’s Google Drive called “Classroom.” Teachers can organize their classes and find student work by folder, all just by creating classes in Classroom. It combines Edmodo with a full paperless classroom experience. A teacher can share a note for students to read (much like Edmodo) or create¬†a collaborative document for to students to work on as a class or in groups. Plus, teachers can make students¬†individual copies of assignments. When I started using Googledocs in 2007, I had to create my own folders and rely on students to share with me. If I didn’t want to deal with forgetful students or misnamed documents, I would create documents to share with groups of students. It was quite tedious and time consuming! One of the other great things about Google Classroom is that Classroom titles the document for your students. It includes their name in the title and any thing you create for students is¬†automatically shared with you as the teacher. So you can watch their progress throughout the lesson. I like to share research documents and then look through documents a couple of days into research and “real time”comment on how students are working during class. When they are first exposed to this, they freak out! It really helps hold students accountable. ¬†They cannot lose a GoogleDoc!

Another awesome thing is that since I shared this and I have the “Easy Bib” add-on, when students go to add-ons inside Google docs, it will automatically come up as an option. They’ll have to add it to allow it to function, but once they do that they can easily create citations right inside of their Googledocs! If students are using web resources, they can even go to the native tool “Research” to create citations for web sources all within the Googledoc!

A few librarians on Twitter asked for a copy, so here is a version you can copy for yourself! And I’m working an “Annotated Bibliography” version for an AP course you can make a copy of too!

You can also read about our DIY Chromebook Storage here and a few more tips on Google Hangouts in this Social Media Advocacy post.

How about you? How do you and your teachers use Google Classroom?