STEAM Celebration Reflection

STEAM Celebration Reflection

In May our school did our first ever STEAM Celebration. If you aren’t familiar with STEAM, it stands fro science, technology, engineering, art, and math. It was a full day of anything cool I could think of, focusing largely on things that we did in the makerspace during the year. Students arrived a 9 AM and got a bag with a snack, map, and a few goodies like pencils. Students didn’t have to have an adult to attend, but an adult got them an extra entry in the door prize contest at the end of the day.

Here is our basic floor plan (we used almost the whole bottom floor of our school):

STEAM Floor PlanWhat worked:

  • RollerCoastersKids who came had a blast! We had about 30-40 families, so around 85-100 people. Several kids came up to me the next day just to thank me.
  • Best quote of the day was a dad telling me he “had no idea the world was this big” and that we had “opened his eyes to the future his son could have.” WOW!
  • I work with amazing people, and this just reminded me how awesome they are. Everyone jumped right in and helped.
  • I had everything organized in bags. That made passing it out easy. I should have had more done the night before though. Leaving myself 1.5 hours that am wasn’t quite enough time to put out all the fires.
  • Budget was about $500 and that came out of my student activity fund. I spent some out of my own pocket, but some things we can repeat so I won’t need to buy next year. Now that I know what we need, I’ll start working on donations earlier.
  • Most popular room by far was the Shrinky Dinks…who would have guessed?
  • We gave kids who attended a free jeans day and they loved that.
  • UTA’s FabLab came for the day as did our public library’s robotics program. They were a huge hit.
  • The maker mentality was alive and well. Collaboration abounded and kids were creating awesomeness all over!

What needs a few changes:


  • I think I collected boxes for about 3 months. I had too many big boxes, but the weird stuff was a hit. Next time I need more weird shaped cardboard packaging. Check out this awesome creation one of our students made on the left.
  • Need to have more floaters next time. We had to medical emergencies, so two teachers couldn’t show up and then we had one emergency that day so a teacher had to leave. That wouldn’t have been an issue if I’d just had a few more adults.
  • I loved the May date, but my admin would like to move earlier in the year. I’m worried we still won’t have a maker culture yet if we do this too early, so we are trying to find the perfect timing for next year.
  • Needed someone just to take photos.
  • I did PR like CRAZY…I thought. But some people weren’t showing the video as asked. Next year I plan on showing videos at lunch too and adding a walking marquee. you can see some videos here (one I can’t show because it has students):

What went wrong and needs changed/go away:

  • The gaming room only had about 5 kids. I was SHOCKED because this is a huge draw in the makerspace, but kids were so busy making (insert choir of angelic voices here) that they didn’t want to game!
  • The zombie room had a sub (teacher got hurt the morning of) so I had a gracious volunteer who stepped in. Unfortunately we were half way though the day before I realized she was missing some of her stuff. That room wasn’t a huge hit either, so we will probably leave off next year.
  • Would like more kids. Next year I think we might open up to other schools that feed into us. I’m still fleshing this out with my principal.
  • QR Code scavenger hunt had zero participation.

Can’t wait to see what next year brings!

Adventures in Genrefying

My genrefying journey was a somewhat convoluted one.  I’m not sure where to start, so just going to jump in and begin.

Step 1: I attended a workshop on genrefying and thought, “I will NEVER do that in my library.” I should have known then that genrefying was in my future, because anytime I say never…

Step 2: Decided to sticker books by genre because my teachers were requiring students read books in a variety of different genres and the teachers did not know the genres well enough to help students decide what genre a book was without me (I’m good but not 715 x 40 good).

Step 3: Weeded like mad and then rearranged my collection by genre. This included rearranging the sections. I also moved manga and graphic novels over by fiction.

Step 4: This is what comes next!  After spending a year in the trial stages, I’m working on getting approval to add sublocations the library catalog so that the computer has what section the books are in so people can find easily. This is very helpful for cross genre books and also for subs. I’d also like to reconsider some genre classifications. My fantasy category is too large, so I’m thinking about breaking it down a little further.

My overall impressions after one year:

Circulation is about the same, but we are no longer doing required silent reading as a campus because the curriculum won’t allow it and teachers have stopped doing the forty book challenge as well because they were told they could not. Pause to take that in for a minute and share my sense of loss.  Next year I plan to do this through the library with a prize as a motivator instead of a requirement. Next year should be a better indicator also because I made this change in right before Thanksgiving.

Reluctant Readers love this change. They know a “safe” place to look for books they are sure to enjoy. When I see them in a section frequently that is a good prompt to me to help them find another section they will love as well. Students are much more willing to help each other find a section of books then they ever were to find an individual book.

Genre facts have been interesting. Some genres circulate much more when grouped together (action adventure, steampunk, realistic fantasy) but some like historical fiction and realistic fiction circulated less. Think I need to focus more on displays in those areas.

Avid readers struggled initially because, like me, they knew where books where visually on the shelves. Once they got used to the new system they were fine, but they were not a big fan after the first week because they are used to being self-sufficient and not having to ask where a book might be if it is a multi-genre book. I’m hoping sublocations will fix this.

For me, it has taken a little getting used to because personally I love abc order, but one of my jewels summed it up best. He is a reluctant reader (frequently in trouble and easily succumbs to peer pressure) and he usually comes into the library when none of his friends are around. Here is the conversation:

Me: “Can I help you find a book?”

Him: “No thanks”

Me: “Oh man, you won’t let me practice my super powers and help you find a book??”

Him: (he looks at his shoes for a minute and then up at me and I’m shocked to see tears in his eyes) “You have already worked your magic. For the first time I can do it…I can really find a book in the library on my own.”

Sigh. What can I say to that?

Flipped Classroom & Flipped Library

At TLA this year I attended two sessions on the flipped classroom and flipped library. This is a collection of what I learned thanks to the panel from TX and Joyce Valenza. Of course there are a lot of resources out there that I didn’t include, but here are the highlights. Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed, but the link will take you to my Spicynode.

Student Advocacy

So yesterday, a small group of students were playing “Are You Smarter than a Librarian?” with me in the library before school in honor of National Library Week. One student (who rarely comes to the library) was also in the lab working on a project. Before we started the game I was sharing the history behind National Library Week and what it takes to become a librarian. The student who rarely comes to the library was halfway listening as he worked.

This boy stopped me mid sentence with this quote: “Wait a minute…wait a minute. You are telling me a librarian has to have a Master’s degree? Why? All they do is shelf…” but the poor kid didn’t even get to finish. Because you see in that group of students I had kids who I’d taught one on one lessons, students in both of the two clubs I sponsor, one student I mentor, students who participate in library events before school, a reluctant reader who can’t chose her own books, and students I’d just finished doing research with in class. I couldn’t hear all their responses, but let’s just say he left knowing that I do more than shelf books…and I didn’t even have to say a word.

It was humbling to know that my target audience really does get with I do on a day-to-day basis (for the most part).  I did help the student involved save a little face by agreeing that yes, I still do shelf books, but that is certainly not ALL I do.