The sun is out, the weather is warming up, and the kids are getting squirrel-y. This can only mean one thing…it’s testing season again! For this tibrarian, state testing means that I am a teacher without a classroom for the next couple of weeks. I know that many of you are used to losing your space for a multitude of different reasons. We have to give up the library for meetings, training sessions, clubs and various other activities throughout the year. Testing is a big deal, however, because it isn’t just an afternoon or a day. Testing lasts for weeks and it forces us to be creative with planning and to be as flexible as possible. Now that our state testing is done electronically, principals need to find places within the school where they can set up class-sets of computers. That is not to mention all of the extra spaces needed for small group testing (to comply with all students’ IEP-mandated accommodations).
For me, this means that I lose the library and my office for the next three weeks. I am lucky, however, that my school is small enough for us to have only one test session per day with no testing in the afternoons. Our computer specialist has been a super-star and configured the lap-top set-up so that I can still hold classes and do book check-out in the afternoons. The mornings are a different story…
I have decided to teach all of my morning classes in the classrooms. I will save my files for the interactive whiteboard on the staff drive so that I can access them in any classroom. I will have to load up carts full of materials to bring along with me, but as long as I keep organized, I don’t think it will be too much of a hassle. I really have had to think ahead to make sure that none of my planned lessons require students to actually be in the library. Since I have been teaching my second graders about library organization, this has been a bit tricky. Luckily, I will see them on a day that there are no tests scheduled, so we will be able to use the library for a call number scavenger hunt. My poetry unit with fifth grade and author study of Tomie de Paola with the first graders will be perfect units to “go mobile” and my third and fourth graders will be quite comfortable working on research projects at their own desks (I will have to bring a cart of reference books and biographies with me, however).
Book check-out becomes the most difficult part of my homeless situation for the next couple of weeks. I am thrilled that I will still be able to bring classes into the library in the afternoons to access the books, as I was unable to do that at my school last year. For all of my morning check-outs, I will hand select books to bring on a cart to each classroom. The students will select their books from the cart and I will use my iPad and Bluetooth scanner to check them out. I think I will bring my laptop and a USB scanner along as well, as I have been having some difficulties using the web version of our ILS lately (better safe than sorry!). The one huge plus of this entire situation is my ability to influence what the students check out. I get to choose what goes on the carts, so I will make sure to include books that have been forgotten, and books that are age and reading-level appropriate (unlike the “too difficult” and “too inappropriate” books that my lower grade students love to choose!). I do only have two book carts, so I will have to be creative about the use of space.
Another challenge is how to check in and shelve the books when testing is happening in the library. I usually check in all of the books when I arrive in the morning, but I think testing will have already started when I get there as my start time is later than the first bell. Again, technology will be my friend in this instance. I plan to bring my iPad or laptop to each classroom and check-in the books there. I will shelve them on the bottom of the cart and other students can check them out again if they wish. I am hoping that shelving can take place in the afternoons after testing is done for the day, but I will have to update you on how that goes!
All in all, this time of year has become a test of the flexibility of the Tibrarian. If you have suggestions of how to deal with losing your space to testing, please share them!