Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hey. Read: An Unsolicited Rant and a New Year’s Resolution

Note: this post is about the problem I personally have with aliteracy; and if you are currently aliterate, steps you can take to change that, if you'd like. If you or someone you know struggles with direct or indirect effects of illiteracy (functional or not), there are places that can help. One of my favorites is the website for the Florida Literacy Coalition, which is full of resources on the subject.  

I’ve heard and read about proud non-readers before, but my social media feeds lately have been full of people who say things like, “So glad this became a movie because I don’t read” and “if anyone gets me an E-Reader for Christmas I’m throwing it away” and various other ways to inform the world that this person dislikes written communication. People who have the means and opportunity to read, and yet proudly say that they don't.  Not like I actually care, but I originally wrote this post at 4 AM on a Friday morning because I couldn’t sleep because of People Like You.

I’m here to tell you: it’s most definitely not your fault that the word “reading” gets you so apathetic. Chances are you, like me, were told outright that you needed to take standardized tests because if you were sick that day the class wouldn't get enough money. Or maybe you went to a school where bodies in the seats weren't considered currency, but regardless your literacy was treated as a means to an end, rather than the gift to yourself that it is.

You were wronged; it's okay to be mad about it. But reading has so many personal benefits and the only person who is missing out by not reading is you.

I once was like you. It’s true. Me. The librarian and educator who literally went to school for reading, twice, and once to obtain a reading-related job. I went to undergrad for English because I wanted to make sure I didn't drop out, and I enjoyed reading books. By the time I graduated with honors in 2004, I HATED READING BOOKS. Freaking hated it. Though I still believed in the importance of reading (which is why I went back to school to get my literacy development Master’s degree) I personally did not pick up a book I hadn't read before for leisure between the years of 2004-2010. Reading felt like a chore, and I couldn't fully enjoy stories because I got hung up with stuff like “word choice”. My biggest pet peeve when reading is still when an author rediscovers a word and then uses it three times in one chapter. It took me awhile, but I got over it in favor of trying to really lose myself in a story.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thrive Thursday: Illusionology! 3rd Grade Outreach

This post is part of Thrive Thursday, a school-age programming blog-hop started by Thrive After Three in the same vein as Flannel Friday. Check out the round-ups here and join the fun!

So my library decided we needed some grade school outreach up in here. You know, over 3 years ago, when Abigail started the idea of the "Elementary School Menu," a few offerings the department would bring out each year to the elementary schools. And then she left the outreach to die on an island because I was hired and I was a Stupid Cat and I hardly knew anything about libraries. (Except for what my MLIS prepared me for, of course, but we all know that's why blogs like this exist.) But after a chance trial-run at outreach with a local group of second graders, I felt ready to pilot the menu this year. I started with kindergarten, second grade, and third grade. This was a deliberate choice: kindergarten and second grade are both coming into the library on field trips this year, and third grade just saw us last year as Library Stars. Each of these is pre-made and stored in a bin, with a script so that anyone can do it (But I usually want to because it's the best).

Why, if it's already written out, did I wait so long to post this awesomeness?! The world may never know. Or maybe it's the existence of C.O.P.S. on You Tube.  You understand.

Kindergartners are treated to a Pete the Cat theme, second graders enjoy an Aliens vs. Robots program, and third graders celebrate Illusionology from the -Ologies series! This post is about the third grade outreach,  because I've not only gotten the most requests for it, it's also SO FUN TO DO and the kids and teachers love it and the entire time you're just like:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Passive Programming: guest post by Ariel Cummins

Behold, a Boredom Buster!
I bugged Ariel in TX until she wrote a guest post for my blog. And-- including the Dr. Strangelove reference in the title-- she didn't disappoint! Here's what happened when she tried my Boy+BOT story action pod at her library. What a great work-around to having a dedicated space for a stealth activity!

Ariel Cummins started her career as a teen librarian, but quickly decided there was far too much drooling with teens and switched to the under 13 set. She writes about her (sometimes bumbling) exploration of what it means to be a children's librarian at http://hushlander.wordpress.com/ and frequently Tweets about authors, librarianship, and ridiculous things at https://twitter.com/hushlander. She works at San Antonio Public Library, and will probably never leave Central Texas because: breakfast tacos.

When I transitioned from teen programming to children’s programming, I also transitioned from a very busy neighborhood branch to a huge Central Library located in a downtown area. While the collection at our Central Library is huge, it was really, really hard to get people to actually attend programs on a regular basis. It was more of a “tourists drop in on vacation” or “residents come once a year to get books for reports” kind of place, rather than a “part of families’ weekly routines” kind of place. We tried programming in the mornings, in the evenings, on the weekends, and on weekdays, with varying success.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Star Wars Jedi Training Academy

Like everyone and their grandmother's library, October is a time for a Star Wars party. For those who may not be familiar, this is because of Star Wars Reads Day. Saturday programs tend not to work so well at my library when we want a big crowd event for older kids, so instead of having our party ON Star Wars Reads Day we had it on a no-school day. Oh, and we didn't call it "Star Wars Reads Day" because that name is more for adults than for kids.
 I DID get this shirt, though. You know. For the children.

I had a Star Wars party on May the Fourth Be With You, but I didn't blog about it because I knew I could do better. Then, I was being too canon to the films. Many Star Wars fans these days, though, mostly watch Clone Wars. Some kids don't know what a Wookiee is. They may not know that **SPOILER ALERT**

Monday, October 21, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 8 Party

Fregley is gawking creepily at your book choices to help me tell you about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid party we recently held at my library for the Book 8 launch. We usually have it closer to the launch date, so we can get the event kit, etc, but I noticed that last year the kids who wanted to put the new book on reserve on that day were already facing a reserve line of 50+.  An early release day about a month ahead of time? PERFECT.

AND, it lets me give all you awesome readers some free stuff to make your upcoming Wimpy Kid party a snap.

Here's how it went down:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Story Action Pod: Halloween Edition!

"Mullet. You know what it is."
An alternate title for this could be: How I dressed as a child's answer to a literacy extension activity for Halloween, and you can too!

Two years ago I created the fastest Story Action Pod I ever produced. I searched my library's catalog for "monsters", and came up with "Even Monsters Need Haircuts" by Matthew McElligot.

And the outcome was hilarious, as demonstrated by the submitted answer to your left.
In fact, I liked it so much, that I went as it for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

TL; DR: Great Middle Grade Books

Hi everyone! Today you'll find me over at Green Bean Teen Queen talking about my favorite Middle Grade titles to read as an adult.

New here? Here's some places you might want to start:

--First thing's first: Here's WTF is up with my blog's name.
--Like a good rant? Here's a few I've written.
--I also run my mouth a lot about child management.
--I share a lot about my youth services programming. You can take a look at my traditional programming as well as my stealth programming, which usually has stuff you can print off and do yourself.

Old here? Head on over to Green Bean Teen Queen for a Middle Grade recommendation to read with a cocktail this weekend.

...I mean, if you want.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prescriptions for Literacy: An Unsolicited Rant


“If children know six nursery rhymes by age four, they are more likely to be in the top reading group at school by age eight.”
“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight”
These are two quotes attributed to Mem Fox. That is each quote in its entirety. They both get at the same thing, but have different ages and different numbers of rhymes. And, there is no citation

These are the things that keep people like me, Amy at Catch the Possibilities, and Mel at Mel’s Desk awake at night. Probably because I found a great cohort of nerds that I have the pleasure of talking shop with at all times. In case you’ve ever wondered what my Twitter feed is all about, it’s mostly discussions that lead to rants like the one you’re reading right now. You're welcome.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

LEGO Chima and Pinewood Derby Party: Sneaky STEM

LEGO Legends of Chima is Ninjago's slightly less popular counterpart; probably because there were only 4 episodes at the time I ran my first program (I did one at the Main library and one at our North branch). Because I'm the luckiest jerk in the world, there are now 9 episodes, the fifth one airing on the day of my first LEGO Chima program. Between the two programs, around 70 people attended, a far cry from my 150 collective attendees at my two Ninjago programs. But, for the amount of time I put into it, I still consider it high-yield.

For the uninitiated, LEGO Legends of Chima follows the exploits of 8 tribes who live in the Land of Chima, where the "life force" Chi gives power to animals to walk and talk and fight with swords. Except that it's not REALLY a life force, because we find out a few episodes in that the animals who never took Chi and are just regular-ass lions and stuff are still around, but they're called "Legend Beasts" because the Chima animals never see them much. Once in awhile the tribes gather and race on Speedorz for some golden orb which is supposed to be better than normal Chi. Also, the Legend Beasts give them immunity because they've never taken Chi and so have no swords or opposable thumbs. In other words, it doesn't make much rational sense, unless you think it reminds you exactly of another show. But they're talking animals, so whatever.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Awesome Box: Stealth Program

 Harvard library has created a"Awesome Box", a way of crowdsourcing Reader's Advisory and book recommendations. The Awesome Box was the brainchild of Annie Cain and Matt Phillips, and now is a project that involves many collaborators. Please read all about them here.

I decided to create something similar at the Story Action Pod this summer.

The result was the meme-filled station you see to the left. And it was super fun! Over the course of the summer we got about 50 recommendations from kids about books from liking The Pigeon Wants a Hot Dog because it's funny, to liking 39 Clues because there is at least one scene that includes swords.

Because Summer Reading Program always gives our circulation department approximately 50 million hours of extra shelving work, we decided to keep everything as inside-our-department as possible.

Here's how it went down:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nominate Your Newbie for an Award!

From Punk Farm.
Do you know an awesome n00brarian with at least one year of experience? If so, you should DEFINITELY nominate him or her for a state award!

Last year, Wisconsin Library Association NMRT began awarding a free year of membership to a one new librarian who showed promise in the profession, called the Rising Star Award. Last year, this award went to a fine, upstanding librarian whose professional demeanor is beyond reproach.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Secrets of the Geodes: Sneaky STEM

Once you see it you cannot un-see it.
Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun detailed our great joint program, the first one of the summer. We wanted to do something about geodes, which we had housed in the porthole that month, a display area regarded with wonder by children all over the city. Wouldn't it be cool if we actually let them touch the stuff from the porthole?! The program description for PR ended with, "after the program, they'll disappear forever." I mean we decided to hold the geode program again before we send them back to the great people at UW Geology Museum but we had no way of knowing that at the time. Additionally, the day after the program the porthole was filled by other collections shared by local kids. If I wasn't planning this program I would've been totally freaked out by my librarian magic.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Undercover Spy Club: Sneaky Social Studies

This summer, our library was planning to have a "Hometown Tourist" program that partnered with local businesses for a city-wide experience. As a department, we put our heads together and tried to figure out what would resonate with kids-- you show me a 4 year old who knows what it means to have a hometown and I'll show you my skeptical-maybe-judgey face. Okay, kids get it's "home", but: why is it cool? Why should they even care? What else is there? It's definition vs connotation, y'all, and the Hometown Tourist initiative is awesome for the latter. But how could we get kids to care?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

So You Want to be an ALA Emerging Leader

This post is now live at BryceKozlaBlog! Click here to view it.

Thanks for being great readers, and I hope to see you over at BryceKozlaBlog.

This blog will be unpublished indefinitely beginning December 31, 2018.

Update your feeds to never miss a post!

To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

Apologies, but the redirect option for Pins will not work the way I intended. I'll update current links to link directly to the new archive as I migrate the content!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Congratulations! Holy Crap: Tips to Survive your First Professional Job

This post is now live at BryceKozlaBlog! Click here to view it.

Thanks for being great readers, and I hope to see you over at BryceKozlaBlog.
This blog will be unpublished indefinitely beginning December 31, 2018.

Update your feeds to never miss a post!

To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

Apologies, but the redirect option for Pins will not work the way I intended. I'll update current links to link directly to the new archive as I migrate the content!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Show Me the Awesome: Iron Fist Part 3

This post is now live at BryceKozlaBlog! Click here to view it.

Thanks for being great readers, and I hope to see you over at BryceKozlaBlog.

This blog will be unpublished indefinitely beginning December 31, 2018.

Update your feeds to never miss a post!

To ensure no interruption of my content on your feed, be sure to add brycekozlablog dot blogspot dot com to your preferred reader. If you follow by email using Feedburner, you can subscribe here.

Apologies, but the redirect option for Pins will not work the way I intended. I'll update current links to link directly to the new archive as I migrate the content!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mythbusters for Kids: Sneaky STEM #2

In April, I decided to do a bunch of science programs and call them "Mythbusters." The premise was based on the fact that this website exists, but when I got deep into what I could plan for cheap/free and what wouldn't need parental waivers or worry about balloon allergies and stuff, I turned to other science books and websites. And just when I  thought I was done for, I turned to the mother of all STEM websites, Gizmos, Gadgets, and Goo. I link to that so early with the implied promise you'll come back here. I talk about it later + an extra treat for you!

Everyone knows the best part of "Mythbusters" is proving whatever family member/high school acquaintance who shares those stupid memes on Facebook wrong (or right). It's the vindication, the ability to say, "I saw that happen, man." This is why, when we Confirmed, Busted, or "Plausible"d a myth, it was based on whether or not we could do it. If our conclusion conflicted with science, I'd say something like, "look at this! Some scientists have actually said this myth is CONFIRMED, but we said it was BUSTED! We're making new science right here in this room!"

Monday, April 29, 2013

Time Crunch Librarian

Click here to see our slides
A few weeks ago I was able to present with Anna (Future Librarian Superhero) and Anne (So Tomorrow) at the Michigan Library Association's Spring Institute in Lansing, MI. Though Anna, Anne and I talk through various social media outlets, I just met Anna in person last May at the WAPL conference, and neither of us had met Anne until the day of the presentation. If you're wondering how we managed to stay relatively on message for this hour long break-out session, I'll have you know it was due to the wonder of technology. We mostly brainstormed on Twitter and Google chat, and created a shared PowerPoint on Google Drive. While adding to the presentation, you could see where someone else was adding to their part or doing some revising. It was simultaneously a magical and creepy experience.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Maker-Spaces for Kids, Attempt #1

During our school's spring break, it was the perfect time to try out this trendy new "Maker Space" thing I've heard so much about. Back when we had to have programming list completed for Spring, I wasn't sure what I'd do; but whatever it was, it would have to be a Maker Space. Afterward, searching for things to do, I encountered many arguments supporting the idea that "Maker Space" is just a fancy-wrapping name for things Youth Services librarians have been doing for years, in a way that's appealing to adults. I wholeheartedly agree with them.

It's kind of funny how everything gets repackaged every so often. Most recently, I read a tweeted-out article about Flipped Classrooms that claims, "Self-Directed Learning is the New Learning." Yes, it's so new that it's been around since the dawn of Man. I would go way farther into how this the article actually kept me up one night so that I had to write extensively about it at 2 AM, but here we're talking about Maker-Spaces.

So anyway. Spring Break "Maker Spaces":

Friday, March 22, 2013

Awesome GIF Finding with Bryce and the Superhero

Note: this is a two-part series regarding GIFs. The second can be found at Anna's blog by clicking this link. Please be advised that it may not be a series if only two parts, but here we are. 

The picture to the left uses Comic Sans; but I'm sure you agree, dear reader, that our likenesses are serious business.

About a week ago I woke up to a cryptic message:

Cool! Anna at Future Librarian Superhero and I are in the midst of collaborating on a presentation with Anne at So Tomorrow, but these ladies are awesome and I'd like to do more. I'm not sure what super-professional career embarkation I was expecting, but as I opened up Drive, it sure wasn't this:

I immediately was like this, then like this, then like this. Then, I was like this. And finally, in the Five Stages of GIF, I was like this.

And so, I present to you--
Bryce Don't Play and Future Librarian Superhero on: Finding GIFs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Awesome Easy Elementary Outreach

I'm sometimes asked how I have time to blog about my programming. The way I see it, though, is different:
I have to blog about my programming.

1. I'm a blogger by my very nature. From ages 11 to 23, I wrote in a physical journal every single day. They travel with me as I move because as much as I wouldn't want anyone to feel anything about stuff that happened in the past (I even hate reading them), I just can't bear to throw them out. As soon as I (unceremoniously) stopped, I started writing at a Live Journal address. Looking back, I actually talked about work on it a lot. (But don't you look, reader, because I'm sure it's embarrassing or something. I just posted the link so you believed me).

2. I'm self-reflective about my programming anyway, and it just makes sense to write it down. Without writing it down, my reflection just goes in circles in my head until it spirals. "What could I do better next time?" quickly becomes "Why was I so dumb to think that would work?"; "I need to find something more cognitively appropriate for those kids." quickly becomes "I just can't work with that age group!" I mean, it gets negative and self-defeating, even if I talk about it. There's something in the flow from brain to keyboard that lets me not worry anymore. Maybe it's the act of knowing my thoughts are saved for later. It actually might be that forgoing blogging as a time saver in the past few months added to my stress level. That would make sense.

3. Blogging, in fact, saves time. I've talked before about my belief in writing scripts and how it's worked for me (here, here, and here). Take yesterday, for example: I found myself heading out to do outreach at an elementary school, and all I did was print out pictures!

...Okay, not exactly. But it was WAY easier than it might have been otherwise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wild Record Wednesdays: sneaky STEM

On Wednesdays in February, I held a series of programs based on Guinness Book of World Records and... well, any record I could find, really, that seemed pretty cool. I started off with some basic ones the first week (and also overtly STEM rather than sneaky STEM), which I probably wouldn't do again because I lost half my audience before I got to the good stuff!

Each week I found about several world records, preferably with accompanying Youtube clips. I would introduce each record, talk about the record holder, and then show the clip. We would turn this into a discussion about sizes or speed to put numbers into context (math) This took about 20 minutes. During this time, we would also add a pin to a 11x17 map to show where our records were. The remaining 25 minutes were spent with the kids engaged in activities based on the records, and looking through our books from our 030 section for other records to share.

What we did each week:

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

I'm on a Trading Card

Make yours here.
You know you want to.
So as many of you have seen, I'm a 2013 Emerging Leader. I was sponsored by ASCLA, and so far this has been a great opportunity. I'll talk more about applying and stuff later (when I was applying, all the info I could find was "should I apply?" posts. I was going to anyway, and the resources I read presupposed that, if one were to apply, one would be accepted. Zero help in reality).

Because I have little time for upkeep on this blog right now and this will be mostly cut/paste, this post will focus on the burning question, "what was up with your trading card answers?" Here's what happened: They sent us all a bunch of questions, saying, "try to keep it short." What is short? Well, I had originally assumed a few words, but, well, I'm not sure any of my answers would get printed at all, or people who would read them would think I was somehow undeserving. So I'd add "real answers".Then they picked four answers from each of us to put on the backs of our cards. Let me state here plainly that I don't fault anyone but myself for how my card turned out, but I do want to share with you, my blog readers, what I really said; because I know for a fact that many of you were expecting something else, either more (debatably) humorous or more... anything, really! My candor is the cross I bear.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Library Signage: Not Just for Bathrooms Anymore

Okay so here's one picture of food.
I was recently able, by the grace of my place of employment, a generous Emerging Leaders sponsorship by ASCLA, and my credit card, to attend ALA Midwinter in Seattle, WA. It was an awesome experience and as a good librarian I should probably write about it and should've Instagrammed all my meals and spent a longer time on the exhibit floor.

Or maybe write about how I'm enjoying Emerging Leaders and I'm humbled to have received such an honor and I'm sure many other people deserve recognition more than me, less than 2 years into my librarian career, and that sometimes gets me that Stupid Cat feeling again. Which is a good feeling, because it keeps me learning, always.

But I just want to share a couple pictures, mostly because I want my boss to see them and talk about them and this is probably the best format for the time being. The Seattle Public Library is an awesome space for a lot of things. What I focused on to bring back to my department was signage, because when focusing on space this might be cheapest-versus-most-beneficial thing to do. Also, I've been inspired by Storytime Katie's rules signage; small, well-communicated info gets everyone where we need to go.
So anyway:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mission: A Guest Post by Miss Julia in OH

image by NatalieDee
Have you ever seen something cool to do in a library and thought, "well, okay, but I can't do that with MY resources?" Welcome to Librarians Don't Play: what I hope to be a series of guest posts about implementing programs/field trip adventures/story action pods I post on my blog in varying libraries across the country, each librarian putting their own spin on it, or simply being inspired by something that they see here and turning it into something all their own.  

Or, you know, anything, really. I'm not the do-all-end-all of kid's programming, and I'm acutely aware that this is the case. If you want to share an awesome program you've done and you want to try blogging about it, you can contact me, too. 

If you want to give it a try, please e-mail me at brycedontplay at gmail dot com. 

This post is by Miss Julia, a Youth Services Librarian in Ohio, based on my write-up for a Spyology program. Please feel free to email her here and check out her new library-related blog, Laughter and Literacy. All links inside the post are hers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ninjago Library Party

Source (seriously, you have to get these books)
At long last, we ran our no-school Ninjago party. To be honest, the total prep time for this program was 3 hours, but it was extremely high-yield at 95 attendees. That is seriously more than I've seen in my time at this library for a program at our library that didn't have a guest or hired performer.
Thanks to the extra prep time, I was prepared. And I'm going to write it out for you all, and link to some resources I found helpful, so that your prep time (and my future prep time; I will be doing this again) will be considerably less than that for the same quality program.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Think-Aloud Librarian

Over the weekend, I helped an 8 year old girl find a "Jack and Annie book." I led her to the Magic Treehouse books, talking the whole time: "Oh yeah! The Magic Treehouse books. I know exactly where those are. They are in our Chapter Book section, under O. The author's last name is Osbourne. So here's books by authors who start with N.... Okay, O! Here we go, Osbourne. Right here."

Sound familiar?
You're a Think-Aloud Librarian.

Why Do We Do This? 
It sounds like we're talking to ourselves, right?
In the education world, we call it the "think-aloud": a little tidbit that helps students follow your train of thought or reasoning; or, in a student-directed lesson, help you understand the student's train of thought or reasoning. In either instance, it's a chance an opportunity for learning.

Friday, January 04, 2013

To Be Hip and With It

When I was teaching second grade, all the kids liked everything I liked: our collective favorite book was Lafcadio: the Lion Who Shot Back; our collective favorite dinosaur was the parasaurolophus; our collective favorite show was Between the Lions. These are kids who had to be issued pencils before each activity because they demonstrated they would hurt each other, but I'd mention Uncle Shelby and they'd all want to hear whatever weird story about him I made up getting ready that morning. Truth is, everything my class liked was everything I had liked as a kid.