Author Archives: Collins Hill Media Center

A “Real” Audience for Student Voice

Teachers are often the gateway to students being involved in the life of the library media center. With that in mind (and the help of a few LA teachers) I developed several ready-made assignments for teachers to use with “choice” novels that provide students with a “real” audience other than the teacher. Check them out at the bottom of this page under “Publish a Book Review.”

Luckily, teachers often allow me into the classroom to give a 10-minute presentation on what I’m looking for with display signs, posters, blog entries, catalog reviews, and book trailers. I can show good examples, talk about what isn’t good, and answer questions. I also get to explain the benefits – a real audience, and perhaps something to show off at a job interview, college interview, etc., plus a good grade! They also get to know me a little better and know they can come ask me questions in the media center.

The display signs and posters are used in the media center or outside the media center on the bulletin board. For the blog entries, the students are directed to email me the words and a picture; this I’ve found to be the easiest way to make sure that student names stay private (first name, last initial) and that the information is accurate and appropriate. The video book trailers are the most time-intensive but also the most interesting! I’ve been working with three classes the last couple of weeks and hope to upload some good examples to our website soon.

Feel free to respond with your own ideas or send me questions!

Holly Frilot

Library Media Specialist

Collins Hill High School Media Center

READ posters are cool?

Who knew? Put cameras in the hands of teenagers, tell them you’re going to display the pictures, and you’ve got some fun READ posters on your hands. You can even do this on the cheap with no software!

I use to stage student READ posters myself. They were ok. But someone mentioned turning the cameras over to the kids, and the posters are SO much better. They take the pictures, and I use to edit, add effects, and add text. I display them in the library and around the school as well. I love seeing students stop and talk about the posters, then ask if they can have one too!

Last year I took it one step further – I had a READ poster contest. Students had to take the picture and do the editing on themselves. The winner would get a big poster displayed in the media center and 2 free movie tickets. My expectations were low, but I was hopeful. I decided in my advertising to use the READ poster that sparked it all – a breakdancer in the library. It was like I issued a challenged to all the b-boys in the school! I got amazing entries and I’m looking forward to doing another contest next month.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Give kids advice on framing, what works well, space to write READ, but then turn them loose. Let them take the pictures. They like their posters so much more.

2. Include teachers and make it personal. I had one teacher dress up as Frankenstein, one in a wedding veil, one doing a karate move – anything that makes kids stop and look. The kids have also gotten the staff involved – from the school officer to the head custodian.

3. Cost: If you have a color printer, you can easily make mini-posters on the cheap. We’re lucky to have a poster printer in the technical drafting department, so I pay $6 per poster for the big ones. Maybe there’s a business that will cut you a deal.

4. Don’t take it too seriously. The fun ones are what make kids come in here asking when I’m holding the next READ poster contest!

Hope to see everyone at COMO!

Holly Frilot
Collins Hill High School

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Things that keep you going…

It’s been a hectic, wonderful, crazy beginning to yet another school year. Here are some of the finer points (think I’d advertise the bad ones?:) that keep me going when I feel like I’ll never catch up:

  • We lost one clerk because of budget cuts, but we still have an awesome team of three to run our high school media center. We are fortunate.
  • We have done SO many 9th grade orientations. I could do it in my sleep. But we’ve gotten good at it. And even though our feeder school’s library looks fancy-shmancy compared to ours, we can usually turn students around by the end of orientation. “This library looks so small” and “Where the second floor?” often turn into “I think I’m going to like this place,” and “Oooh…I’ve been wanting to read this book” and “We can really check out five books at a time?”
  • I don’t know how many checkouts we’ve done (currently at home sick with one sick child too) but it’s about a zillion. Ok, that might be exaggerating…a half zillion. Trust me, it’s a big number.
  • We helped with revamping a couple of our summer reading lists. I had a senior tech student come in and want to see the list again. I assumed he hadn’t finished his summer reading book. “Oh no; I just liked it and wanted another.” My inner dork did a happy dance. (For the record, no actual dancing happened. I have learned that scares high school students away.)
  • We assisted with three research projects by the 8th day of school. It’s going to be a busy year.

We’ve dealt with little air conditioning, no air conditioning, lots of administrative requests, two of our small staff have sent their “babies” off to college, I sent my oldest to Pre-K, I’ve been sick, my youngest is sick, and it’s day 11. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings! I hope all of you out there are getting some good with the crazy that is inevitably the start of the school year. You may be feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated, but know that what you do is incredibly important, even if you don’t hear it every day. Good luck and happy 2010-11!

Holly Frilot, Library Media Specialist

Collins Hill High School

Words to Widgets

What in the world is a widget? That’s what I thought a few months ago, so I decided to find out. Now I think they are going to help students navigate researching with databases.

I’m in the middle of switching all of our database links from words to widgets. Where I used to have the words “History Resource Center: World” linked to that database, now I have a widget – the words, an image, and a search box where a search can be started immediately (see picture). I think students will like starting their search right away, and may be more likely to remember a database if there’s a picture tied to it. I’m in a high school, but I think this could work for any age group.

Gale databases have great widgets. They provide everything for you and let you customize it if you want. You choose what option you want for embedding, such as HTML code for your website (what I use) or a link to paste in Google sites. The image is also a link, so if you didn’t want to use the search box, the database still comes up.

EBSCO also has widgets available. I received great customer support from Ryan Taylor, who was very helpful in helping me create some of the specific widgets I needed.

For the databases that don’t currently have widgets, I’m not savvy enough to create them myself. But that’s ok; there aren’t too many, and all of them have an icon associated with each product. So I used that icon and made a link. Easy, and I think more recognizable to have an image and text than just text alone. We’ll see in August!

If you are even thinking about trying widgets, go to our Social Studies Databases page and see what you think (it’s the only one I have finished). If you like it, it’s a little time-consuming, but I promise it’s not difficult! I’d be happy to share any tips, tricks, and HTML code that I can.

Holly Frilot

Library Media Specialist

Collins Hill High School

End of the year idea

We’ve all heard the praises of Animoto, but I hadn’t had a chance to really play with it until recently. I decided to create a highlight reel for what’s been happening in our media center this year so I could really get a feel for its pros and cons; additionally, I produced something that showed off what we’ve been doing! Rather than a standard report, this one (I hope) is entertaining and informative.

Here’s this newbie’s take on the pros/cons:

Pros: Looks AWESOME, very easy, quick, easy to share and download, free accounts for teachers and their students.

Cons: Music has to be the right length or pictures get cut out, can’t add more than one song, very limited text space, took a week or so to get the educator code to set up my account.

Here’s a link to our highlight video if you are interested.

Have a good weekend!

~Holly Frilot, Library Media Specialist

Collins Hill High School