Engage Your Students

This past November, I attended the New York Library Assn. Annual meeting “Open Libraries, Open Minds.”    Sara Kelly Johns, the former president of NYLA, opened the meeting with the prophetic words reminding librarians to be “game changers.” Librarians are at the center, our role is to build a new path, make connections and reengage our communities.

Here at Flushing High School where I am the school librarian, we are fortunate to have teens as our “captive audience.” Teens are our future, they have leading persuasive influence on many decisions in their homes, from who their families vote for, to what car they drive and what cell phone plan the family subscribes to. Rich Harwood, of the Harwood Institute reminded us that libraries build trust, they teach people to read.
As school librarians, we teach our students how to be smart consumers. They are learning to analyze, cite textual evidence for their decisions and in the words of the common core, are learning how to “practice close and careful reading” of complex text to prepare them for college and a career.

To achieve these objectives, our plan at Flushing High School was to create at least three lesson units so students would be able to delve into the research and practice the skills we were teaching independently. This semester we created unit plans for research based units aligned to the common core standards. To complement the teaching of the book, My Bloody Life, The Making of a Latin King , by R. Sanchez, the teacher assigned an argumentative essay dealing with one of the themes developed in the memoir. We co-taught the research part of the assignment by instructing the students how to use the databases to find articles to fit their needs. We created a libguide to gather all the research sites in one location. You can view the guide here: http://flushinghighschool.libguides.com/gangs.
We also posted models of term papers and taught the students how to analyze the text by using close reading techniques such as underlining, highlighting and annotating.
These skills are easily transferable to many different areas. Our students will make use of these skills as they hunt for colleges to attend, careers they wish to pursue, or even purchasing decisions they will make.
It is our job to show students the relevancy of the skills learned and practiced in the library to their life. They get to see how essential these skills are and will continue to use them throughout their life.