Susan Norwood guest blogged this discussion today: There is no doubt in my mind that the Library is the most vibrant place in our school. My students know that it is my “Happy Place.” There is no place I love better than a good library, except for a good bookstore. In the bookstore I can buy books, depending on my budget.
Anyway, why do my students love the library so much? I have been thinking about this. For readers, it is simply that they can check out books and read in peace. Most students enjoy the opportunity to get out of the classroom, which can be too confining. Studies show that guys especially like to have more space. Let’s face it, most classrooms are crowded. The computers are a huge draw for students. Other than a computer class, there isn’t a regular opportunity to use computers in the school, other than in the library. We have a computer lab, but my classes are scheduled to go in only once every two months. When my lucky day comes, I have forgotten about going. Plus, it takes too much time to retrain students how to log-in, etc.
I have also noticed the phenomena of students who love the library, but don’t really like to read. I can think of at least two students, a boy and a girl, who ask to go to the library every day! They like to work in the library. They are great at shelving books, tidying the tables, putting up posters, and checking in books. As soon as we go to the library, they step up behind the front desk and go to work. They tell students what books they need to turn in. You would be impressed at their efficiency! They really can run the place, when given the opportunity.
This is really valuable on-the-job training. You may not see it in Ms. Chen’s lesson plans, but she is teaching these kids important skills, such as serving customers, taking inventory, maintaining a clean work site, etc. In the process, I believe that these students are reading. They have to read to be able to do their jobs. Working in the library is an “authentic” task. I hope Ms. Chen will blog on the work that students perform in the library. She told me that students have to “train” and pass a test before they can become her assistants. She will have to tell you more about this.