Creating Wish Lists with Capstone Press: A Next Step in Student Book Budgets

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Jim Boon from Capstone Press has been doing student book budgets with me since the beginning.  Each year things change just a bit, and Jim naturally adapts right along with me.  This year, we have our largest group of students working simultaneously so it gets noisy fast.  The most challenging thing is making sure that every voice is heard and that all members of the book budget group are engaged.  I love bringing in Jim because he masterfully listens to all students.  He makes connections with them and even remembers them from year to year if they have been part of the group before.  The students in turn have come to know him.  The returning students welcome him back and the new ones quickly learn why we bring him back every year.

Ahead of Jim’s visit, I email him some possible dates to visit.  We establish a time and he mails catalogs for all of the students to use on the day of his visit. Once we have our purchasing goals, I share those with him as well.  He sets up a big selection of Capstone books for students to look at that match the goals that they have set.  He even divides the books into 2 displays: fiction and nonfiction.

Jim does a very short explanation of what students have in front of them. He shows them how to look for books in the index and as well as how books a grouped together. He shows them that the displays might only have one book from an entire series that they can find in the catalogs. He shows them where to find prices for individual books as well as complete sets.  He shows them how each set of books has a barcode in the catalog that can be scanned straight into a wishlist on capstonepub.com  This scanning feature puts the entire series into the list, but then you can go in an uncheck the books that you don’t want to add.

Finally, Jim talks to students about current promotions that Capstone is offering that might stretch their budget even more. I love this part because it helps students think about how they might invest their money or how they might request extra money from me in order to take advantage of a promotion.  This discussion usually doesn’t happen on this particular day, but I always love seeing their wheels turning as they give me reasons why we should spend our money a certain way.

The fun begins when students leap into action. They take books from the display back to their tables and look through them.  They peruse the catalogs.  This is the point where it is hard to stay focused on our purchasing goals.  With a catalog of hundreds of pages, there are so many interesting books that don’t match what we said we were going to buy, and students easily slip into what they personally want to buy rather than what the whole school wants.  I don’t really worry about this very much during our first day with catalogs. Instead, I give a few reminders to think about our goals, but I know that we will revisit the entire list when we make cuts to match our budget.

As students find books that they want to add to the wishlist, they begin forming a line at my computer. I pull up a student book budget list on capstonepub.com and students scan the barcode in their catalogs.  We uncheck all of the books in the series that they don’t want to keep and then save the list.

At this point we don’t worry much about money, but when a student scans a series of 32 books and says that they want to add all of them, I do let them know how much all 32 books would cost.  Most of the time, the student is shocked and quickly narrows down to a few books that they really want to add.

Across an hour, students made a wish list with 161 titles totaling $3071.91.  Capstone is not our only vendor we are working with, so we are definitely going to have to cut some titles from this list.  We will meet 4 more times to add more titles, revisit our goals to see that they are all represented, and finally narrow our list down to the budget we have agreed upon.

We thank Capstone Press and Jim Boon for their continued support of his project.  We appreciate that this company listens to students as well as offers a rewards program that allows us to stretch our student budget even more.

 

2015 Student Book Budgets Step Two: Goal Setting

Discussion

The students in this year’s book budget group have been busy.  We emailed our reading interest survey to all students in our upper grades, but our younger students needed to be surveyed in person.  The book budget crew have carried iPads to recess and lunch as well as picked up iPads before school to survey students.  Over the course of a few days, they have surveyed almost half of our school.

All along the way we have checked the progress in our form by viewing the summary of responses and seeing which grades needed to be surveyed.  We wanted there to be voices from every grade level on the survey.

Finally, we all met in the library for an official meeting to look at the data on the survey.

Discussion

First, the students started picking out the kinds of books that received the most votes.  They made a list of 11 kinds of books.  These books were the ones that received above 60% of the people surveyed who said they liked that kind of book.

Our Goals

The students decided that they wanted to keep this list of 11, so our next step was to decide how to divide our approximate budget of $2000 among the 11 goals.

This came with some controversy.  There were lots of ideas.  We decided to make a list of our ideas on our shared Google doc.  Four main ideas came to the surface.

Voting on Budget Plan

1.  Divide the money equally among the 11 goals.

2.  Create a stair step budget or waterfall budget where the top goal on the list got the most money and the last goal on the list got the least.

3.  Narrow the list of goals to a top 10 or top 5.

4.  Focus on different kinds of books for different grade levels based on the survey responsed.

 

The students voted on these ideas by putting tallies in a table on the Google doc.  The idea of a waterfall budget won the vote, so the next step was to start thinking about how to divide the money among the goals while giving more money to goals requested by more students.  This was even trickier, and we ended up not making a final decision yet.

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Deciding how to divide the budget really called upon the students’ math skills.  They wrote things on paper, Google docs, and used Google chrome as a calculator to try to add up various amounts to get to $2000 and divide the budget up into multiple categories.  Students were using their problem solving and reasoning skills as they discussed in groups why their various plans worked or didn’t work.  Some were even revisiting the survey data to try to look at percentages on the survey and correlating that to budget percentages.  Math wasn’t just a subject at this moment.  It was a real life skill that was being put into action.

Our process was again loud and messy, but I loved how the Google doc allowed us to get lots of voices represented in the conversation rather than hearing from one or two people speaking aloud.

Now that our goals have been decided, we’ve sent these to Avid Bookshop and Capstone Press.  Will from Avid Bookshop will visit the students to book talk some books from Avid that match our goals and Jim Boon from Capstone will share his company’s offerings.  I think the pairing of these two vendors will get the students a great variety of titles to choose from.

I can’t wait to see what they decide.

 

2015 Student Book Budgets: First Steps

survey production (2)

We are a little late this year, but our student book budget group has finally started.  Each year, I reserve a portion of our library funding and allow students to make the decisions about how that money is spent.  This is more than just having a wish list for students to contribute to.  This is giving them complete control in every part of the decision making process.

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Each year, the groups are chosen in different ways.  This year, I made a video to show to our 4th and 5th graders to explain the project.

Then, I created a Google form that was shared with all of our 4th and 5th graders to tell why they would want to be in the student book budget group.

Aziz Coleman, 4th grade teacher, really wanted his ELT group of 12 fourth graders to be a part of the project, so all of them filled out the form along with about 30 other students.  After reading through the responses, it really seemed like everyone who signed up was genuinely interested in being in the project, so I took them all!

I created a schedule for our meetings along with a timeline of where we are going.  Over the years, I’ve fine tuned the steps that we go through, but student voice and student choice always stays at the center of what we do.

During our 1st two days together, we have focused on creating our survey about reading interests.  I made a contact group with all of the students in my gmail.  That makes it easy for me to invite the entire group as collaborators on docs that we use.  I made 2 docs.  One was a brainstorm doc for us to brainstorm possible things to ask about on the survey.  I thought it would be easier to brainstorm on a doc rather than try to do it all on the Google form.

It was amazing to see so many students working together toward one common cause.

After some brainstorming started, I gave them editing rights to our 2nd doc which was our Google form survey.  We made a copy of last year’s form, and then started using our brainstorming list to make changes.

This was the 1st time I’ve tried collaborating on the Google form.  Usually we just put it up on the board and work together whole group.  I liked seeing every student involved at once, but it was definitely messy.

I checked in with students periodically and gave them some focus.  At times, we broke the tasks up into groups.  For example, one group worked on fine tuning the brainstorm list.  Another group added questions to the survey.  Another group looked carefully at the checklist on the survey to see what needed to be added or changed.

Students worked during their recess, extended learning time, and even left to get lunch and come back.  They were excited and very focused.  There were a few students who started getting off task, so I offered that they might want to go back to recess if they felt like they had contributed their part for the day.  This was totally in their hands, and some of them took me up on the offer.

We are now in the survey process. We want to survey students at every grade level.  We will email the survey to our 3rd-5th graders since they all have a computer and we will use iPads to survey the lower grades.

 

Click here to view this year’s survey.

Since our meeting time is during a prime lunch time, we have been taking over the lunchroom with iPads to survey students.

Once we have results from the survey we will set goals based on those results and start meeting with our vendors such as Capstone and Avid Bookshop.

New Year’s Resolutions: The Barrow 2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Barrow Reading Challenge   Google Docs

One of the new traditions at our school is to hold a schoolwide assembly when we come back from winter break.  This assembly focuses on goal-setting.  The new year is often a time to make resolutions, but in the education world it is a time to check in with the progress made in the first half of the year and think about what we strive to accomplish in the second half of the year.  Last year, I invited all of our students, teachers, and families to join me in “expecting the miraculous”.  We created a Flipgrid where we shared our expectations for 2014 and “expect the miraculous” because a common mantra in our school.  My principal asked if I would once again share something at this assembly.  I wasn’t quite sure what to share at first, so I spent some time thinking about the goals for the library that I established over the summer.  One of those goals is to “support the reading habits and curiosities of students, teachers, and families.  I’ve done several things so far this year to support this goal.  We’ve held 2 author visits, a storybook celebration, Polar Express Day, a picture book month challenge, and a picture book smackdown.  However, I feel like I haven’t done something that really encourages reading a variety of texts for students, teachers, and families.

Barrow 2015 Reading Challenge

As I was pondering, I was reminded of something in my Facebook feed about Mark Zuckerberg’s new year’s resolution.  Each year he “takes on a challenge to broaden his perspective and learn something about the world beyond his work at Facebook.”  This year, a crowdsourced list helped him decide on his resolution.  He will choose a new book to read every other week and post about his learning on Facebook.  His selections will have “an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

I thought this idea would make an interesting challenge for our students, teachers, and families.  What if we invited students, teachers, and families to choose a reading goal for themselves?  Maybe it could be something they want to learn more about.  Maybe it could be about selecting books from a genre that they haven’t tried.  The goal would be completely up to them.

The second piece of Zuckerberg’s goal is a frequency of reading, so I wondered what it would be like to invite students, teachers, and families to choose a number of books to read across the next 3 months of school or a goal for how often they might finish a book.

The 2015 Barrow Reading Challenge was born.  I created a log that explained the challenge.  I made 2 versions.  One could be copied to hand out to our prek-2nd grade students who do not have 1 to 1 computers.  The second version could be digitally shared with students.

Since our 3rd-5th grade students are 1 to 1, I setup a Google Classroom and sent an email to all students inviting them to join the classroom if they wanted to participate in the challenge.  Once students join, I will assign the Google doc reading log to all of them so that they have their own copy to edit and turn in by April 1st.

2015 Barrow Reading Challenge   Google Docs challenge

In addition, our principal will email the digital copy of the reading log to all families on her listserv and I will copy additional paper copies to have on hand in the library.

Slideshow

I made a slideshow to show students, teachers, and families at our assembly.  It includes slides on the story of where this challenge came from as well as the details.  I hope the assembly will get the whole school excited about participating.

Along the way, I hope to spark some conversations about what we are reading within the Google Classroom as well as offer opportunities for all students, teachers, and families to talk about their reading through tools like Flipgrid, Padlet, and our library glass board.

Once the challenge ends, I hope people will consider continuing their challenge through the year.  There will of course be some rewards beyond accomplishing your goals.  Participants who turn in a log will receive a certificate, a bookmark, and be entered into a drawing for lots of new books and anything else I can round up over the next 3 months!

I can’t wait to see  what happens.  We will continue to expect the miraculous, and I hope to see lots of people join in the challenge and fun.

Participating in World Book Night 2014

Last year was the first year that the Barrow Media Center participated in World Book Night.  It was such a fun and rewarding experience, that I knew we had to do it again.  On World Book Night, each “giver” receives 20 copies of a certain book to hand out in the community.  The process is really simple.  A few months before April, applications open.  You submit an simple application explaining how you will hand out the books.  If your application is approved, you select where you will pickup your books.  I always pick mine up at our local independent bookstore, Avid Bookshop.  They hold an event where givers can meet one another and exchange of ideas of how to hand out the books in the community.  Then, on April 23, you hand out your books.

Here’s a little more from the World Book Night website,

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.

World Book Night is a nonprofit organization. We exist because of the support of thousands of book givers, booksellers, librarians, and financial supporters who believe in our mission. Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2012.

This year, my book was Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon.  I was so happy that this was the book I was selected to give because it’s a book that I’ve hoped many of our students would pick up.  Rather than randomly hand the book out in our community, I decided to target specific students in our school.  Teachers in 4th and 5th grade helped me select 20 students via a Google doc.  Each student was chosen for various reasons.  There was no set in stone way to choose a student other than we wanted to put the book in the hands of a student who could use a new book in their home library and who would enjoy reading this book.

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At 1:00, all of the students came to the library.  I told them about World Book Night and we visited the World Book Night website.   I told them about being a giver and picking up my books at Avid Bookshop.  Then, I showed them the book.  We visited the Candlewick site where we could watch a trailer for Zora and Me.  I read the back of the book to all of the students.

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Then, I got to say the words I was so excited to say…”I’m giving a copy of Zora and Me to all of you.  Every single student was so excited.  Some of them jumped up to help pass them out to the group.  I loved watching them immediately open the book and start reading it.  I also gave them all a bookmark.

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I told them that my hope is that they would read the entire book, share it with their families, tell me what they thought of, and cherish the book as a part of their home libraries.  I look forward to hearing from them very soon.  One student told me she would probably have it finished by tomorrow!

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World Book Night is an amazing experience.  It seems small when you first sign up, but you are filled with emotion when you put your book in someone’s hand with the wish that they will read it and love it.

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Our Student Book Budget Order from Capstone Has Arrived!

IMG_3014Each year when students participate in the student book budget group, the most exciting day for them is the day that we unpack the boxes when they arrive.  It’s the day that all of their hard work and tough decisions pays off.  After surveying almost the entire school, setting goals, meeting with vendors, creating wish lists, cutting books from the lists to fit the budget, and placing the order, the students finally get to hold books  in their hands.

Today our order from Capstone came.  We love buying books from Capstone each year for many reasons.  One reason is that their books are popular with our students.  We also love their customer service.  Our sales representative, Jim Boon, always comes in and helps students with the book selection process.  We also love how Capstone stretches our budget.  This year’s order from Capstone was $1750, and with Capstone’s current promotion, we earned an additional $525 in books.  When we were unpacking the order today, a student said, “Capstone Rewards sure does help us get a lot of extra books.”  I love that this project really pushes students each year to think about fiscal responsibility and how to stretch a dollar.

Just like every other step of the way, the students are involved in every step of unpacking the books.  We basically form an assembly line.

Some students pull books out of the boxes and inspect them for any damage.  There’s usually not any, but we always check.

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Another student takes these books and highlights each one on the packing slip to make sure they are all accounted for.  Today, I helped with the highlighting process because there were so many books to take through the entire process in only 45 minutes.

These books then go to a student who stamps them with our library stamp.

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From there, a group of students takes pictures of the covers to put into an Animoto to show on our morning broadcast.

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When all pictures are taken, the pictures are uploaded to Animoto by another group of students.

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Then, all of the students work on setting up a display at the front of the library.

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The students all got to check out one of the books before they were really revealed to the rest of the school.

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Then they watched their Animoto and had a little dance party to celebrate new books.

Usually, students start coming in to check out the books before we even get them all setup.  Today was no different.  Some of the DC comics and sports immediately got checked out by 2 eager boys.  I love how one student’s shirt says, “best day ever”.  It sure feels like a great day when we see so many smiling faces for books.

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It was also a little sad to see our project for the year come to an end.  These students have been so dedicated by coming in during their recess time to work.  I smiled when one of them said, “I think I want to grow up to become a library media specialist”.  Other students said, “Please let us do this again next year.”

When I asked them why they like being in the student book budget group, they said things like:

  • who wouldn’t want to buy books for the library
  • we loved making decisions
  • it was fun to spend money for the library
  • people are reading the books that we chose

This process is so empowering for students.  The project has proven again and again that students know how to buy books for other students.  Their books are checked out rapidly and stay among the most popular books in the library.

Thank you Capstone for supporting our project each year.  Your promotions, great selection of high interest books, and book swag gifts, made the students feel like rock stars.

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Unpacking Our Student Book Budget Order from Gumdrop

IMG_2827Today, the student book budget group came to the library to unpack our first order.  Most of our books that we ordered will come from Capstone, but there were a few books that they found from Gumdrop.  Gret Hechenbleikner is our Gumdrop rep who brought in several book samples for students to look at.  One of our goals for purchasing books was World Records.  We have several Guinness World Record books, but Gumdrop had some Ripley’s books that were much smaller in size that the students loved.  They also found some haunted history books that I’m sure will be extremely popular.  We are trying to increase the number of books we have about making things, so they found a series of books about making graphic novels as well as making crafts out of various materials.

To save a bit of money, we did not purchase shelf ready books.  We did order the barcodes and protectors, though.  Students came in during their recess and worked through several steps.

Step 1 was to unpack the box, check off the packing slip, and check the books for damage.

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Step 2 was to put the labels and label protectors on each book.

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Step 3 was stamping each book with our library stamp.

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Step 4 was to download the MARC records into Destiny.

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Step 5 was to think of how to advertise the books to the school.  Students decided on 2 things.  They wanted an Animoto of all of the books and the unpacking process on our morning news show for Monday.  They also wanted to create a display at the front of the library.  One group of students worked on taking pictures.  Another group worked on making the Animoto.  A final group worked on creating the display.

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It was fun to watch them celebrate when their Animoto was made.

The books haven’t even been officially advertised to the school yet, and already several of the books have been checked out.  I won’t be surprised on Monday when there is a stampede to the library to check out what is left.

These students will meet again next Friday, when they will unpack a large order from Capstone and repeat the same process.