Being a school librarian is one of my proudest achievements. I love that I can combine my love of books with my passion for teaching. I will, however, admit that I didn’t exactly understand the ins and outs of the entirety of the position when I made the switch from teaching first grade to teaching every grade level in the library. I never dreamed things could get as tricky as they do.
In a typical teaching situation, you are given a set of guidelines — you have teaching standards you’re expected to impart, and then curriculum products to use as a road map. These are the teaching manuals and textbooks used to guide instruction. Teachers might adjust the order or depth of different lessons. They might not even like the quality of the product at all. But there is usually something to use.
These kinds of products don’t exist in the school library world. I’ve never heard of a professional school library curriculum that includes all aspects of the things we need to impart — digital citizenship, basic technology skills, media literacy, genre identification, library usage and procedures, book handling skills, the distinction between reading for pleasure and reading for information, researching in databases — I could go on, but you get the idea. This is only taking into account my elementary level students! The American Association of School Librarians does publish standards, and these are helpful in guiding the big picture, but this does not lay out a day to day scope and sequence.
However, we’re librarians. There is no way that a lack of overpriced material from a publishing house is going to keep us from teaching rich, engaging lessons. We just might have to work a little harder to find them. Below, I’ve gathered some of the places I look for lesson ideas and inspiration!
Even though I am the only librarian (in my state we go by the fancy title of Media Specialist) in my school, I am lucky enough to have colleagues in my district. These folks are my life line when navigating all the moving parts of working in the library. We are often given the chance to travel to each other on professional development days, but a quick email can go far! Even if you don’t have relationships with librarians in your district or even near you, you might be able to find some colleagues to connect with through your state organization for librarians. In Massachusetts we have the Massachusetts School Library Association, an organization that holds conferences and facilitates communication between librarians in our state. This is a great place to find lesson ideas and much more.
Most of my library lesson ideas come from social media. Because I’m not only teaching lessons, but also developing and maintaining an entire collection, the internet is also where I keep up with new releases and find ideas for book displays.
Some of my favorite Instagram sources for book hauls and curated lists are Baby Librarians, MaiStoryBook, and The Tutu Teacher. They constantly share titles that I want to add to the library, use as a keystone for a lesson, or simply want in my read aloud repertoire. For library lessons, my far and away favorite is The Read Aloud Librarian, but I also adore the resources shared by The Book Wrangler.
Pinterest is my digital filing cabinet, and I’m endlessly grateful for the ideas I’ve stored! I not only browse the actual site to find lessons, coloring pages, book lists, printables, and genius solutions to common problems, but I have a browser extension that allows me to send ideas I find elsewhere to my Pinterest boards. I also love how I can organize boards into subcategories — when you need to cover everything from identifying the cover of a book to navigating the difference between fact and persuasion in an online article, you end up with a lot of resources to dig through.
Teachers Pay Teachers
This website is a mecca for lessons, digital materials, and printables. With categories for every grade level, subject, and aspect of working in a school, Teachers Pay Teachers has something for everyone, and the school library is no exception. While TpT is not a free resource by default, you can often find freebies offered, and even more often, extremely inexpensive materials that you will use again and again. I go here frequently to see which materials have been created around my favorite read alouds, but the possibilities are endless.
There you have it! Some of my favorite ideas for finding library lessons. Do you have a favorite resource I’ve missed? Let me know!
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