Daily Objective: Students will be able to identify and utilize the technological resources offered by the school library.
My library orientation day was a little bit of a bust.
First bust: I still had no voice. None. Barely a whisper.
To compensate, I wrote out a script of what I would have said, printed it out, pantomimed intensely to a random student to come to the front, handed my script to him, and let the class figure it out.
After spending a precious ten minutes drafting questions to ask the new librarian, we headed down to the school library.
Second bust: instead of learning about the plagiarism-squashing wonders of TurnItIn and how to check out kindles and download books online, we spent each 53 minute class taking ID pictures and trying to convince kids to check out a book.
A large percentage of my 134 English students are allergic to books.
Who knew? One kid actually started breaking out in a weird red rash he was convinced had something to do with the library. Another conversation went like this:
Kid: Mrs. H, books are…against my religion.
Me: And which religion is that?
Kid: Um…book-ism. Yeah, we ban books. [stupid chuckles from 15-year-old male cronies nearby – remember that I sound like the witchy Queen Mab in Merlin]
Me: I studied sociology in college, and in order for a religion to be a religion, it must have a deity to worship and an answer to the question of what happens when you die. What does your religion do?
Me: Plus, book-ism sounds like you worship books, not ban them. So fail. Go find a book.
Male Cronies: Duuuuude pwned.
Also, they’re all afraid of page numbers.
I could break up a 300 page novel into three 100-page parts with chapters of 5 pages each and they’d read them no problem, but somehow putting all those pages together is intimidating. It’s like first grade when you’re excited to announce you’ve read two chapters, before you realize that chapter lengths really have no consistency or mean anything past The Magic Tree House series.
I think what my students struggle the most with is reading level – despite being tenth graders, many of them are still on a middle school level, and I think our library offers more Stephen King than Katherine Patterson. Thankfully I have a small stock of middle school reading material thanks to my amazing mother-in-law, so I convinced one difficult sale that if I brought in some books I thought he might like, would he read just one chapter and tell me what he thinks?
See, I don’t care WHAT they read. If they want to read Maxim for the articles, fine. Yahoo news, funny billboards, great. I just want them to read grammatically-correct material. I’m seeking fluency and comfort level.
I know many of them won’t quite be in SAT-whomping mode in twelve months, but if they are willing to check out a book longer than 150 pages, it’s a step.
Another student informed me that he can make more money “scrapping” than with a college education.
I asked him if he saved any of his money. He rolled his eyes.
I asked what he thought he might do when he retired. He said “welfare.”
I tried to explain why my husband and I are attempting to save now just in case those fabulous post-retirement money systems like pensions and Social Security don’t exist in 40 years. His eyes glazed. I told him that either way, he was plenty smart enough for a college education and could do a lot of amazing things with his life. Not that making good money scrapping is bad (it’s not), but if he thinks he doesn’t need a high school degree to succeed, then he’s selling himself seriously short. I guess I didn’t expect to having these battles my second day of teaching.
On a different note, I found out one of my girls is totally in love with cars and another one of my girls is a teen mom fighting to finish her high school diploma. A third one has returned to the district after two years in another state and feels left out that her 7th grade friends won’t talk to her. I know I’ve only been out of high school five years, but it seems to have gotten harder. It really makes me wonder what’s up with the other 131 kids I see every day…