Planning Assignment: Bookfest

Introduction

The library at our local K-5 school, Guadalupe Elementary, has been a small part of the overall learning experience. Due to budget cuts over a number of years the library has languished and has receded into the background of campus life. I just now have become the Media Tech and Librarian and want to start to rebrand the library into the learning commons space as outlined in the inspiring Liiiites Model website (Loertscher, D., & Kompar, F., 2018). The library should be seen as a unifying space for the entire school campus and move books and literacy into the foreground of the elementary school experience. As Dr. Dallas Dance states in the article about school libraries as a part of the Future Ready Schools website, school libraries have “their place at the heart of student learning” (Glick, 2017). This will unltimatley be a multiyear process but I was looking for one event that would represent some of the Liiiites Model ideas while still working within the framework of the current pandemic – a tall order to be sure.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions in all of the students’ lives at Guadalupe Elementary. The entire student body of 700 students have been distance learning from home since the March 13, 2019 school closure. The students are exhibiting a high level of stress and feel disconnected from their peers, their teachers, and their school community. Under normal circumstances the school uses whole school events to bring students and families together on campus and build community bonds. 

In the past, our school put on an event called Winterfest where the community gathered on campus and dined on donated soup together before dispersing to the many classrooms where teachers were reading their favorite picture books aloud. As the new Media Tech and Librarian at Guadalupe I was searching for a way to increase the visibility of the library on campus but am severely limited by the local social distancing restrictions of our county. I was inspired by an article I read (Beckerman, 2020) that told how many people are turning to books to survive the isolation of the quarantine. Reading is normally a solitary activity but by making it into a community event, a reading challenge, reading can be the perfect vehicle for a socially distanced event for the entire school community. 

By leveraging the Winterfest event already scheduled for December 2nd I am proposing to expand this event to include a month long reading competition and rebrand the Winterfest event as a capstone celebration. Bookfest will run the entire month of November and the entire school community will read as many books as they can to reach a school wide goal of 2,000 books read. Bookfest ends with the Winterfest virtual celebration at the end of the month which will include links to recordings of teachers reading aloud favorite books, a virtual book fair, and a special live event with the principle. In the past, Guadalupe’s principal has often dressed up as a funny character on big school event days. Another key component of the Bookfest contest will be that every book read will be a vote for which funny character the Principal should dress up as. The Bookfest event will satisfy three requirements of this unique time by offering one event for the entire school, promote the pure joy of reading, bring literacy to the leading edge of school events, and allow the school to offer an event that students can participate in that also meets the county’s socially distancing guidelines.

The Bookfest event is also an illustration of moving from the library being reactive and purely a content provider to offering a participatory service. The Winterfest event as it was executed before was fully realized and created by volunteers and teachers. Bookfest invites the students to participate in the event and shape the final outcome by reading books to achieve a goal, voting on the principal’s final costume, and offering book suggestions to their fellow students.

Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:

1. Build community by offering one goal the entire school community, students, caregivers, teachers, and staff work together to achieve 

2. Satisfy all the socially distancing regulations of the county.

3. Encourage adults to model reading by including caregivers and staff in the event.

4. Honor the intrinsic joy of reading by not requiring a specific type of book or number of pages read requirement. Students at all reading levels choose books they are personally interested in and able to read. 

5. Move literacy into the forefront of the school wide events.  

6. Build a reading culture by encouraging students to make recommendations to other students.

Description of Community you wish to engage

-Elementary students enrolled at Guadalupe Elementary School and their caregivers

-Teachers and staff of the Guadalupe Elementary

Action Brief Statement

Convince students and caregivers that by reading books they will have fun and build community which will make them feel connected to the school and each other because reading is an enjoyable activity that will bring you closer to your community (and promotes better literacy). 

Convince teachers and staff at Guadalupe Elementary School that by participating in and promoting the Bookfest event they will see their students read more books to help achieve the whole school goal which will give the students a sense of working together and build community because students need to feel more connected to their school and have more fun. 

Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:

Learning Commons Vision:

Beckerman, G. (May 20, 2020). This is no time to read alone. New York Times.

Loertscher, D., & Kompar, F. (2018). Liiiites Model. https://sites.google.com/view/liiiitesmodel/home?authuser=0

Luster, S. (July 29, 2018). Reinvented school libraries unleash student creativity. NEA.org. https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/reinvented-school-libraries-unleash-student-creativity

School read-a-thon research:

Cooze, A. (2018). A Critical Exploration of a Professional Learning Community as a Mechanism for Developing Whole-School Approaches to Literacy in Wales. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Dembowski, S. (2005). Read-a-thons: A New Fundraising Opportunity. Library Media Connection, 24(3), 33.

der Gucht, F. V. (2013). The challenge: A reader-centered programme for young adults in vocational colleges. Bookbird, 51(4), 68-73. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/docview/1445461398?accountid=10361

Hall, M. (2009). Reading Incentive Programs with Pizzazz. Library Media Connection, 28(3), 28–29.

Nonte, Sonja, Hartwich, Lea, & Willems, Ariane S. (2018). Promoting reading attitudes of girls and boys: a new challenge for educational policy? Multi-group analyses across four European countries. Large-Scale Assessments in Education, 6(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40536-018-0057-y

Small, R. V., Angelastro, E., Bang, S., Bainbridge, S., Brindamour, C., Clarke, J., Cordova, C., Dittmar, B., Hubbard, E., McHugh, D., Lauth, T., Lee, K., Mauldin, K., Pannell, B., Panshin, N., Sarro, M., Stasak, M., Sullivan, J., & Yannarelli, A. (2009). Reading Incentives that Work: No-Cost Strategies to Motivate Kids to Read and Love It! School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(9), 27–31.

Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service

The media tech will be the main lead for this project with a committee of parent volunteers. The principal and a teacher representative will offer support on how to integrate the Bookfest concept into the school curriculum and help with promotion of the event. A representative from the Home and School Club will also be involved in the planning to ensure the entire community has bought into the event.

The event will also need to adhere to district guidelines for school events and all guidelines from Santa Clara County for events.

Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service

At a very basic level the program requires very little funding. The contest information will be housed on a webpage that has already been paid for by the Home and School Club. Free resources like Google Forms and WordPress plugins will be used to save resources. No specific book is required to participate so all students can use any book they already own or get from the public library (the Guadalupe library is closed per Union District guidelines). The Home and School Club has offered $200 that will be used for $5 book fair cash as incentive prizes for the students to write book recommendations. All communication will be done electronically via email but some promotional materials may need to be printed off so teachers can “show” their classes in their daily Zoom meetings.

Action Steps & Timeline: 

September (two months before contest month)

-Meet with a core planning team which includes the Library Tech, representative from Home and School Club, and other parent volunteers.

-Interface with the Principle to ensure leadership buy in and gather leadership feedback. If there is not a positive response from the Principal or teachers then the event will be scaled back to the initial Winterfest celebration which includes just one night of virtual teacher read alouds and a virtual book fair. (Winterfest is the original name of the event.)

October (month before contest month)

-Introduce event in the October Newsletter distributed in the first week of October

-Create website, create newsletter templates, initiate teacher interactions

-Create advertising talking points for all the teachers for their daily slides/meetings, the principal for his weekly video, and the parent newsletter

-Announce the contest officially the last week of October

November (official month of contest)

-Update the daily books read totals on the website

-Gather all the teacher read aloud videos for the final celebration

-Create celebration webpage with a link to the virtual book fair, links to the teacher read alouds, and a link to the actual celebration video and event

-Tally votes for principal costume 

December 2nd Bookfest Celebration

-Announce final books read totals, create celebration video, monitor event webpage for issues

Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: 

Library tech staff time will be needed to lead the volunteer team organizing the event. Volunteers need to be found to set up the event webpage, create the weekly newsletters, create promotional advertising to present the challenge, and for the final live event with the Principal. Library Tech staff time will be needed to review all newsletters directed to caregivers and add in any helpful literacy information like links to the local public library. The time spent creating these deliverables is an investment in future events as most will just need a quick update year to year. 

The amount of direct teacher involvement has been kept to the absolute minimum because of the added stress distance learning has placed on teachers. Teachers are asked to provide a book recommendation via a template Google slide, to verbally advertise the Bookfest in their daily class meetings, and to record a 5 minute read aloud for the final celebration event at the end of the month.  

The Principal is asked to include the Bookfest announcement in his weekly emails and videos to the school community. The Principal is also asked to be the “prize” at the end of the contest and dress up in whatever costume the students vote on, and his time will be required for the final prize video.

Training for this Technology or Service: 

There is no training foreseen at this time. The teachers are already recording videos of themselves due to distance learning requirements. 

Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: 

Promotion is key for this book reading challenge. Due to the pandemic the avenues for advertising are very limited. Weekly emails to caregivers will include reading recommendations from teachers, students, and staff. Weekly updates will be sent to all the teachers and promotional materials will be provided so that it is easy for teachers to consistently talk with their classes.

In order to encourage student involvement students are asked to send in recommendations for their favorite books to be included on the weekly newsletters out to caregivers. Students are also incentivised to send in recommendations by being entered into a drawing for $5 to spend at the virtual book fair at the end of the month of November.

A social media hashtag will also be promoted so that teachers, principals, and parents can use this hashtag and participate in the event. This will be one way to encourage the use of digital tools to connect community members. Gweneth Jonas, author of the Daring Librarian blog encourages school librarians to embrace current social media technologies by saying, “schools should be reinforcing positive ways of using social media” (Luster, 2018). The social media hashtag will be one way students and their caregivers can embrace social media positively.

Evaluation: 

The main benchmark of this event will be how many students and community members participate and if the goal of 2,000 books read is met. Another benchmark will be the number of participants in the final virtual event on December 2nd. It is unrealistic during this time of extra stress to ask the teachers to perform any kind of survey to see if students’ reading habits increased or their view of reading changed. The goal of this program is to introduce an event focused on literacy that capitalizes on the virtual nature of the current environment.

References:

Loertscher, D., & Kompar, F. (2018). Liiiites Model. https://sites.google.com/view/liiiitesmodel/home?authuser=0

Luster, S. (July 29, 2018). Reinvented school libraries unleash student creativity. NEA.org. https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/reinvented-school-libraries-unleash-student-creativity

Beckerman, G. (May 20, 2020). This is no time to read alone. New York Times.

1 comment
  1. Hi Sarah –
    This sounds like a great plan – in fact as I was reading I wanted to join in the bookfest. I think this is great way to get families reading and promote literacy in a fun and stress free way.
    Thanks for a great plan.
    -Jennie

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