Gaming in the Library

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-12-26-23-pm I’ve never really been into video games, except for a mild obsession with Super Mario Bros when I bought a Nintendo back in middle school, but after attending the AASL Game (Gaming as Meaningful Education) Conference, I’m excited about video games!game_logo_300

Thomas Knowlton, Creator of NYPLarcade and an Outreach Librarin for NYPL gave a fast paced and engaging presentation at GAME that had the audience frantically scribbling notes and left them wishing there were demos of the video games set up in the conference room next door. In addition to the 10 fantastic games he shared, Knowlton also explained the three criteria he uses for selecting games: Availability (budget, platform required and time), Playability (is it: dynamic, watchable, age level appropriate, and quick), and Intertexuality (can it be connected to a book or another game, can it be discussed).  Two of the five games that Knowlton recommended for teens: Gone Home, a first person walking simulator video game by Fullbright and 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, a choice driven, adventure narrative video game by iNK Stories, interested me the most and I thought could best be incorporated into a curriculum.

Gone Home Knowlton gave the example of using this game with an English class, discussing: following character threads, writing narrative threads, or using the artifacts in the story to start discussions on different topics. I can see this being used with a creative writing class.

1979 Revolution : Black Friday Knowlton shared the how this video game might be tied to the graphic novel Persepolis persepolisas they both deal with the 1979 Iranian revolution. I also think both the game and the book could be brought into a discussion in a geography, history, or global studies course.

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A new year

It’s a new school year, with the emphasis on new. Our library team has new members, a new look, and a seemingly endless supply of new ideas. All this newness is refreshing and inspiring, but is only possible because we spent the last twelve months thinking about who we are and how we work, both individually and with each other. This ‘year of thinking’ allowed us to create a better working environment, as well as a three year plan for the future of the library. A recent google study talked about  “psychological safety,” having an environment where everyone is free to share ideas, and encouraged to try something new  without fear of humiliation. We are only three weeks into the school year, and it’s evident that we have “psychological safety” and it’s inspiring!

A look at some of the newness –

The amazing Jordan Ellis, created a new look for our library circulation desk.


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Write on the walls

Writing on the walls is not normally something you’d encourage students to do, but since adding glass panels to several collaborative spaces in the library, writing on the walls is something we actively had to encourage.  When we renovated the library a few years ago, the students took to writing on the painted whiteboard walls straight away but they rarely wrote on the glass walls. We decided it was time to intervene! At first we just added short messages to the glass walls but soon took to asking the students questions…

IMG_0318 windowand they responded! Without any announcements or encouragement, other than posting the question, the students happily replied. The questions vary month to month, but they all seem to garner lots of responses and promote conversations. The only downside is that we are enjoying this conversational wall too much to leave it clean for students to work on. Fortunately, the collaborative spaces for students also have glass walls; hopefully they’ll write on them!


Looking for something good to read? Check out the recent Printz Award Winner and Honor titles. Dive into Magical Realism with Printz Award winner Laura Ruby’s novel Bone Gap. Historical Fiction more to your liking? Try Out of Darkness, a Printz Honor title by Ashley Hope Perez. If you aren’t drawn to one particular genre, try Printz Honor book, Ghost of Heavens by Marcus Sedgwick (2014 Printz Award winner for MidWinterBlood), a suspenseful tale of four linked stories that go between historical and science fiction. Happy Reading!


Movement in the Library

Our library was renovated last year, creating a more user friendly environment. As a result, student use increased and the library became a popular hang out, especially at the end of lunch and after school. While this is what we had hoped for, more students using the library, we didn’t anticipate the great deal of energy the students would bring to the library. Many students, who would normally be running around outside burning off their extra energy from sitting in classes all day, are now running around the library. Wanting to keep the students in the library we decided to investigate seating options that would allow the students to move while working.

The Washington Post had an article recently about a school in Charleston, SC where children are encouraged to be active while they are learning.

In these Charleston, S.C., schools, children are seen, and heard, and always active

And in 2013 Clemson University encouraged students to stay active while studying by outfitting a study hall area with FitDesks.

Why not follow the lead of Charleston and Clemson and add some movement to our library?

FitDeskSo excited for our new addition!

What made me a reader?

After reading blog posts from both Jennifer LaGarde and Gwyneth Jones’ AKA The Daring Librarian on what inspired them to become readers, I decided to take my turn.

Jennifer’s post is so well put, I couldn’t agree more with what she had to say. I too, did not become a reader because someone held me accountable, offered me “points”, limited my reading choices in anyway, or forced me to write book reports.

I became a reader because I loved listening to stories. Being read to was magical! I absolutely loved being read to as a child, I liked losing myself in the stories I heard. Even today, there’s something special about hearing a story; weather it’s an audiobook or hearing a storyteller, I will always love listening to stories.

Yet, being able to read myself was even better. Reading gave me independence. The library at my elementary school felt massive at the time, with walls and walls of books to choose from, and once I was a reader the choices seemed endless. I cannot recall all the stories I enjoyed as a child but I do have fond memories of hearing The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and Wilson Rawls Where the Red Fern Grows. Both stand out as two stories I escaped into, and replayed over and over again in my head. I was also lucky enough to have parents who frequently took us to the public library. It was a great summer the year I discovered Keane’s The Family Circus and Keene’s Nancy Drew series .Two very different types of fiction, but that’s the beauty of a library – the serendipitous discoveries!

There was quite a long stretch in my school years, when the required reading of academics and sports took over, leaving me precious little time to enjoy reading. But then I was handed O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and I instantly developed a love of historical fiction and my need for and love of reading returned.

As both Jennifer and Gwyneth wrote in their blogs, let’s encourage students (and teachers) to become readers. Let’s fill the shelves with books and allow students to make serendipitous discoveries, give them a choice what to read, encourage them, allow them to see us reading, and share the stories that made us readers.

Again, a big shout out to Jennifer LaGarde for her post Learning To Read Alone Is Not Enough. Your Students Need a Reading Champion, and Gwyneth Jone’s Reading: A Passionate Love Affair.

keepcalmHappy reading!