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Library Takes Literacy on the Road


IMG_6655.JPGSchools, like libraries, have changed over the years. In and around the East Noble School District, those changes have brought these two entities closer together.

“About ten years ago, we were talking about the changing world of libraries and the changing of librarians’ roles in the schools,” said Kendallville Public Library’s Children’s Services Manager Beth Munk. “We found that librarians were not going to be in elementary schools, able to share books and share literacy with the students in the same way they had done before.”

At the same time, much importance was being placed on state standards in the classroom. These academic benchmarks create an outline for teachers on what students need to learn in each grade level. Teachers and parents know that’s a hefty task, but the library saw it as a place to lend a hand.

“We decided to offer our services in matching state standards with lessons that we can do in the classroom,” explained Munk. “Essentially we’re still planning a storytime. We’re doing the same thing in other grade levels that we do with our preschool students, but we’re doing it in a classroom. We take a science state standard, for instance, and we come up with a lesson plan that teaches the science. But, it’s still sharing books and connecting literacy to everything the students are doing on a daily basis.”

At the beginning of each school year, Munk works with teachers in grades K-4 to schedule regular visits to their classrooms.

Angie Sibert, a second grade teacher at North Side Elementary, uses the library’s resources for many of her Science and Social Studies lessons.

“Whatever our science and social studies standards are for that week, they (library staff) hit on that topic that we have already been covering in class so it’s almost like a second dose of what we’ve already taught.”

That reinforcement is great for kids – especially when someone new comes into the class. Kim Angell, Children’s Assistant for the Kendallville Public Library, is a regular in Sibert’s classroom.

“It’s good for the students to have a new face come in, but then after she leaves, they can follow up and summarize what they learned and put that into their science journals, and they have conversations about it then days afterwards,” said Sibert.

Angell recently taught a lesson on mixtures in several classrooms throughout East Noble. The Kendallville Public Library created a short video on that lesson, and you can watch it above.

To create lessons like this, Angell starts with what’s called a Scope in Sequence. It’s a timeline of standards that need to be covered during each part of the school year.

“The standards are pretty detailed, so I spend some time on the computer looking at other lessons and ideas,” said Angell. “From that, I will look and see what resources we have in the library to complete an activity. If we don’t have the resources we need, then we purchase those resources and then I put the lesson together. I usually have just about a half an hour, sometimes forty five minutes when I’m in the classroom, so I want to make sure I can get everything in and tie it up, and leave the kids with something that will make sense and will stick with them when I leave.”

“My students love having the library staff come visit,” said South Side fourth grade teacher Jennifer Roberts. “They bring hands-on, engaging resources that we don’t have in classroom and also give our students an opportunity for a positive interaction with another adult. The staff communicates with the teachers to ensure the lessons align with our state standards.”

Not only does the library provide in-classroom visits for East Noble and nearby Wolcott Mills Elementary (part of the Lakeland School District), but they also provide resources – books and materials – to schools as well. Upon request, the library offers bulk loans of items for teachers to use in the classroom.

“Our classrooms need the resources the public library has available and utilize their (library staff’s) expertise in using those resources,” said Joantha Smith, a fifth grade teacher at Avilla School.

Deaneen Pashea, a K-6 Instructional Coach at North Side and South Side Elementaries, agrees that the library’s resources are key.

“Inviting the Kendallville Public Library to our schools allows us to access the library’s wealth of resources, so we can continually provide students with highly engaging and challenging materials and lessons on a variety of topics,” said Pashea.

KPL gets a benefit out of this partnership, as well. When the staff meets the students in their classrooms, those kids are more comfortable coming into the library.

“Now they know us. They’re comfortable with who we are, they’re comfortable with the materials that we have and the tools that we have and so they bring mom and dad to the library,” said Munk. “So our circulations have increased or changed, even. Our non-fiction collection is circulating at a time when most non-fiction collections are not circulating. Our schools are one-to-one, so our kids have access to iPads and computers, yet they’re still coming in to get non-fiction books to learn about animals or to learn about science, which is fantastic.”

Teachers are still teaching, and library staff members are still sharing stories, but it’s all coming together to provide a unique education. Bottom line? Kids win.

“Kids are engaged with books and activities that incorporate science, math, and critical thinking skills,” said North Side Elementary Special Education teacher Laura Pepple.

“The kids are learning but they’re having fun, too, said South Side first grade teacher Jennifer Malcolm. “Having KPL visit our school is amazing. When Mrs. Kim comes, she reads a book and takes my class on amazing adventures. We come alive.  We are scientists, explorers and engineers.”