School Name: Nakusp Elementary/ Nakusp Secondary
School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes
Inquiry Team Members:Megan Martin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Gajda: email@example.com
Lorna Newman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Hibberson: email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading
Focus Addressed: Growth mindset, Self-regulation, Social and emotional learning, Other: Engagement
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Why do students essentially stop borrowing books for enjoyment in high school and what changes can I make at the intermediate level to improve student readership in Gr 8-12?
Scanning: In September I looked at the end of year library statistics for the 2017/2018 school year between the elementary and secondary schools. The numbers were alarming to me. The elementary school circulated 6035 books, while the secondary school circulated 343 books.
Many high school students continue to express little interest in reading for enjoyment. I had noticed a higher number of grade 8 students borrowing books at the beginning of the year, but this dwindled near second semester when they were no longer taking English class. Opening the library for unstructured use was unsuccessful. As a result of discussion among my journalism students I created a book club elective and had a great response with ten students. Within the class I noticed many are bringing books from home or reading e-books. Sharing “coffee table” books with classes did not bring students into the library but it was reported that the materials were used and popular.
At the elementary level I had great success engaging students in a lunch time book club and battle of the books. However, I noticed that attendance also dwindled as the weather improved. Several students gained confidence during their lunchtime visits and learned how the library worked, even getting chances to sit at the computer and practice signing books in and out. I feel I have made a significant step towards creating the library as a space everyone can feel ownership. Students have begun to help peers find books and sharing book titles with friends.
Focus: The majority of high school students only borrow books for English class, as it is required for their novel study. A handful of students borrow books for enjoyment. This is a drastic change from the behaviours in primary/intermediate grades and I am hoping to see more students use the library and borrow books for enjoyment.
Hunch: Intermediate students do not view reading as ‘cool’ or enjoyable and I have noticed a change in students who used to have this attitude. They have begun to check out multiple books a week and are requesting books be held for them. Perhaps, for some, reading has become a way to escape life for awhile. Being encouraging and available to talk with the students has developed a positive relationship. While I noticed library visits were still rushed, fewer classes missed library blocks this year. Classes showed more respect for the space and books this year. I’m hopeful that this positive attitude will carry over when they enter high school.
New Professional Learning: I completed an inquiry-based library course with UBC to dig deeper into my inquiry. Through this course, I connected with Teacher-Librarians across the province and learned about their challenges and successes. I was able to tailor my assignment to fit with a colleague’s inquiry project. My colleague found my resources enriched the inquiry projects and was open to collaborating on future inquiry lessons. My attempts to connect with the public library for ideas with their teen/young adult circulation trends was unsuccessful as they are facing the same/similar challenges
Taking Action: Going forward I plan to continue opening the libraries at lunch but with specific activities planned. Additionally, I hope to open the libraries after school once a week to allow students time to browse the collection. Socialization is a high priority for students during school hours but a high percentage walk home. I will be adding more plants, alternative seating and art. I will be improving upon my book displays to highlight new books. I am hoping to change how library visits happen at the elementary school, so students stay for mini lessons. We will continue to host a Battle of the Books but will consider inviting other schools so we can create more excitement and motivation for a competition. I’m considering the possibility of connecting with families through a blog or website.
Checking: I don’t think I did as much as I could have to effect a change. I was feeling positive, until I saw the numbers effectively hadn’t changed for the high school, but I see improvement at the intermediate level. From September 5 to June 3, the high school has circulated 371 books to the elementary s 6825 books. This is a 28-book increase versus a 790-book increase. However, if I ignore the numbers, engagement at the elementary level has increased and students are continuing to read ferociously. The junior fiction section I created has been well received and contributed to increased confidence with reading. As I hoped to effect change at the intermediate level, I am hopeful, that with continued efforts, these students will continue using the library as they enter high school.
Reflections/Advice: Through my inquiry I was reminded about the technological aspect, it is hard to know how many students are reading if they are choosing e-books. I plan to go ahead with opening the libraries more to students and trying to target the upper intermediate and grade 8/9 students. I would remind other schools to remember that change takes time and changing attitudes can take even longer.