Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Middle School Internship: Day 3

(24 hours down, 16 to go)

Nothing like a little cell-phone initiation rite to make a teacher feel right at home!

I spent half of my time at my internship today straightening out the situation with my stolen cell phone; talking to the assistant principal, filing a police report with the school officer, trying to get Verison to track down my phone via GPS to see if they could spot what locker it was in (seriously!) and I realized by the end of the day that I truly felt at home in this middle school, a kind of "I could do this" attitude settled over me.  I would have preferred to have waited until my day was over to deal with these issues, but it became obvious very quickly that stuff like this is a part of the job. That and it was important that we figure out who had done it so that they could face the consequences.

While I was dealing with the phone issue, Ms. S was helping kids and testing all the computers in one of the adjacent computer labs. There is no building tech at her school, she sort-of oversees any issues and reports them to a floating district tech who comes when available (he was there by the end of the day to fix the 50% not-working computers in that lab).  I am trying to see how that would work in my school, and I can't see that it would, mainly because I teach full prep with really no time to do things like run up to look at someone's Promethian board, or test a lab full of computers.

That wasn't the whole day, of course. I was actually pretty busy! I didn't realize until it was almost time to go that I had forgotten to eat my lunch. Ms. S never takes an actual lunch break, she'd have to close the media center if she did which in her view just isn't worth it. I'm assuming she eats in between helping kids, but I never saw her do it.

And there are a lot of kids to see! More groups in today, mostly to view the book fair. Ms. S says usually there are large classes that come in to work in the media center, and she helps mainly by circulating and assisting when needed.  Generally speaking, it is the special education and ELL students who take up a lot of her small group and individual time.  She has a nice system to help them figure out how to find information (and get very familiar with how a library works). She has several hundred index cards with topics from simple to complex for students to find in the media center. A student might receive an index card simply with the word "dog" on it, and they must figure out how to find information about a dog. On the more difficult end, she has cards listed with things like "find a book with only a chapter on Martin Luther King, Jr."

Just recently, one of these groups has neared "graduation." She pulled out the "find a map of the New World as seen in the 17th Century," bringing together number skills (what does 17th century mean, in terms of years?), social studies skills ("what was going on during the 1600s?"), and of course library searching skills ("the library search is NOT Google, so I can't type in "show me a map of the New World").

Oh, and I learned a bit more about Accelerated Reader. Now, I've been working in an Accelerated Reader library for two years, and thought I had learned most of the ins-and-outs, but I guess I missed the obvious. You see, each book in Accelerated Reader has a corresponding quiz. I've been frustrated in my media center when kids come up to me with books that they want to take quizzes on, that we haven't bought. Up until today, I thought that the AR administrator had to buy each quiz, even though I knew that there was a section to make a quiz.

Ms. S makes all her quizzes, or she has students do it. She doesn't buy quizzes, she reads the book herself, and comes up with 5-10 (sometimes 20) questions that will test the reading comprehension of the student reading the book. I did a quick quiz after reading a Flat Stanley Adventure book, and loaded it into the AR system, ready to go for a teacher who really needed a quiz for that particular book. What looks like a really good excuse to read during the day is actually a hugely time-consuming prospect. Which is where bringing students in on it comes. Even at the elementary level, it would be easy to have students come up with the 5-10 questions per book required.

I'm actually pretty excited about this discovery. We're reorganizing my school's library at the end of the year into a traditional set-up (using Dewey Decimal) instead of ordered by book level as it is now.  Seeing how successfully run Ms. S's library is, utilizing good old Dewey Decimal and also incorporating AR makes it a lot easier for me to see how things are going to be run in my media center after this year.

I also spent a good deal of time helping with the book fair, checking out books, and, of course shelving books.  I am realizing what is so difficult about shelving books (besides the backache, because there is definitely that): 1) it never ends and 2) it takes me longer than it probably should because I want to check out all the books that kids are finding interesting. There are a lot! It is good to have an idea of books that are out there, even though my students aren't quite ready for that level yet.

They're getting there.

and so am I

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