USA Study Trip Meeting 6 – Tabitha Johnson at The School at Columbia University

Meeting 6 – 26.10.11, 10.30am

Tabitha Johnson, Librarian at The School at Columbia University, Private K-8 School

Reasons for Meeting

  • I wanted to include a range of private and public schools
  • Tabitha does a lot of work on teaching research skills using ipads
  • They have a lot of Spanish teaching in the school and I wanted to see how they support this in the library


  • I observed Tabitha give a great 45 minute lesson to Grade 3 students on connecting subject headings to picture books, with each group of children using an ipad to check back to the library catalogue as they went
  • I heard some of the other things they do with ipads
  • Walked around the library to see the design
  • Discussed team-teaching versus librarian doing all teaching – Tabitha teaches on her own as that’s the way the timetable worked, but she said her personal preference would generally be team teaching
  • Skills Tabitha teaches to different age levels – I was surprised and impressed at what she expected children in Grade 4 and 5 to do – this was quite a wake-up call to me that we really need to challenge students at Shrewsbury, and look to teach much higher level skills in both Junior and Senior school

Josie to take away

  • Get involved with research skills teaching during KS2 library lessons
  • Consider starting research skills teaching at KS1 level as well as KS2
  • Have a look online at Patrick Karmen scary stories – are these only available through ipad, or also online?
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USA Study Trip Meeting 5 – Chappaqua Public Library

Meeting 5 – 24.10.11, 4.15pm

Miriam Lang Budin and Kelly-Ann Pajer, Children’s Room Staff at Chappaqua Public Library

Reasons for Meeting

  • They have a really active children’s program with 16 preschool events each week and regular events for school age children.  I wanted to find out how they had developed and diversified this.


  • Miriam talked about their Multi-lingual Mother Goose session, where parents and toddlers sing nursery rhymes in a variety of languages – each of the songs had been contributed by a parent at some point
  • Miriam explained that they’d expanded and changed sessions according to the demographic using the library (age-groups, languages spoken, etc), and ran sessions at different times to suit different parents’ schedules.  They used the numbers attending sessions to guage success
  • I observed Kelly Ann’s Stories and More session, where she read aloud a chapter from a longer storybook to a group of K-2 children, and did a quiz and game.  I was really impressed by Kelly Ann’s ability to maintain the children’s attention, and think this could be worth trying with a similar age group here
  • Kelly Ann talked about what she enjoyed doing in the sessions, and what she thought the benefits were for the children
  • Both Miriam and Kelly said that they value of doing these sessions is not really in what the children listen to and learn, but that it gets parents bringing the children into the library regularly, and encourages parents to share stories in a similar way

Josie to take away

  • Start having flyers in the library to advertise Storytime
  • Consider doing a duplicate Storytime session first thing before school, to appeal to parents who visit the library at this time instead.  Would this mean we’d need to open at 7am?
  • At the moment we just use numbers as a feedback gauge as well – should we do something like a questionnaire to get a better idea of what parents do/don’t like about Storytime?
  • Bring a whiteboard down to Storytime to use in a few extra games, and think about adding some nursery rhymes
  • When English Storytime has really high numbers, this isn’t a reason to stop advertising, it’s a reason to start doing two a week!

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USA Study Trip Meeting 4 – Brenda Shufelt, Librarian at PS30

Meeting 4 – 24.10.11, 1pm

Brenda Shufelt, Librarian at PS30, a small K-5 school in Upper East Side

Reasons to meet

  • Brenda recently did some Family Reading Nights with parents
  • I wanted to see how research skills teaching could be introduced at this young level


  • Brenda organised a series of Family Reading Nights – family came in after school, teachers took  children to one room to read stories, and librarians took parents to another to talk about ways to share books with children, and how children benefitted from this.  This was advertised through leaflets, and also the school’s parent volunteers rang the homes of families that they thought would benefit!
  • Brenda also ran a long-term research project with 2nd grade, slowing it right down to include skills teaching.

  1. She used an IWB to get the class to practice putting something in their own words – sentence from a book on the screen, and they all had to say it in their own version.
  2. The project they did was on an animal –she made sure each of the animals on the list had a book, a pebblego entry, and a nat geographic kids entry – Brenda stressed that this preparation was important
  3. Children took information from each of these and wrote it in their own words
  4. She can gave them a big flip chart sheet, with 4 boxes, each a different subheading.  Children cut the notes out, and stuck them under the subheading they fitted with.
  5. Finally, they typed things out in that order, to create the final report.  I really liked this as a way to give a visceral idea of the process of taking notes and then converting them into a report.

Josie to take away

  • Look at (EY-Y2 info resource), and consider starting a subscription
  • Speak to SPA, to get more ideas about getting parents into the library
  • Continue plans for a reading tea and topics with Beth
  • Adapt Brenda’s research skills approach for a project with Y3 or Y4
  • Think about doing some “sharing books” skills sessions for nannies, who may not be as accustomed to doing this, possibly getting Thai staff to do these sessions in Thai.
  • Encourage more nannies to join the library – suggest parents write to say they will take responsibility for books the nanny borrows?
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