It’s back-to-school time and that means looking forward and planning for great activities for our students whether we are in person, virtual, or a hybrid model. Check out some of my favorite resources when it comes to back-to-school!
In 2019 Shannon Miller created a wonderful Google Sheet, “Library, Learning and Literacy Celebrations Throughout The Year!”, that provides dates of monthly celebrations, resources, curricular tie-ins, display and bulletin board ideas, weblinks, and more. While this resource is “out of date” and some links are no longer valid, it still provides a jumping-off place for planning library activities. I’d also encourage you to keep an eye on Shannon’s blog for new lessons, choice boards, and collaborative ideas.
International Dot Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, Library Card Signup Month, and more!
September is the month designated by the American Library Association when school libraries review their resources to ensure it is reflective of the personal and curricular needs of teachers and students. School librarians, school libraries, and a well-maintained collection matter. Over 30 empirical studies, as well as data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), have concluded that schools with full-time, certified school librarians resulted in an increase in “standards-based language arts, reading, and writing tests, regardless of student demographics and school characteristics” (Lance & Kachel, 2018). One major correlational study in Texas found that students who read self-selected books for pleasure that serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (Oxley, 2006) result in increased “grades in English, mathematics, science, and history than those of their non-reading peers” (Whitten, Labby, & Sullivan, 2016).
Three of my favorite September celebrations are International Dot Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, and Library Card Sign-Up Month. While it isn’t mandatory to sign up to participate in International Dot Day to create activities for your students, I would recommend doing so. Signing up will enable access to the free Educators’ Handbook for International Dot Day that is filled with many learning activities and blackline masters. Shannon Miller has also created a new STE(A)M Choice Board exclusively for International Dot Day. In addition, Discovery Education has an entire channel dedicated to International Dot Day. One of my favorite Discovery Education Dot Day resources is the virtual field trip.
Talk like a pirate day
Kids love pirates and pretending! Sandy Kendell, a digital learning coach in Texas at Georgetown ISD, wrote a blog post with seven fun ideas to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day with your students. Of course, my favorite of the seven ideas Sandy suggests is pulling out all of the pirate books in your library collection.Melinda Long and David Shannon team up to write some of my favorite pirate books, including Pirates Don’t Change Diapers.
Similar to their International Dot Day channel, Discovery Education has a channel dedicated to Pirates as well. Access the EBSCO eBooks K-8 collection through TexQuest to provide your students with virtual access to pirate books as well. Talk Like a Pirate Day is also the perfect time to introduce your students to the Story Pirates! The Story Pirates is an award-winning Podcast that takes stories written by students just like yours and turns them into sketch comedy and songs. You might also want to check out some of the YouTube videos created by the Story Pirates as well. They are always good for a big belly laugh! The Story Pirates are a great motivating tool to get students excited about creative writing.
Library Card Sign-Up Month
Library Card Sign-up Month is the perfect time to partner with your public library. Many public libraries will come to your school and allow students and parents to sign up for a public library card.
“Whether you use a library card online or in person, it gives students the tools to succeed in school and provides people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunities to pursue their dreams and be their best selves. From family storytimes to virtual homework help, libraries play an essential role in supporting the value of lifelong learning through education”(American Library Association, 2021).
Marley Dias, author, executive producer, and founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks is the honorary chair of Library Card Signup Month this year. “A library card is the ticket you need to travel across the globe. It allows you to experience stories that can connect you to diverse and empowering experiences,” said Dias.
Although we have just dipped our toes into August the #LibraryCardSignUpMonth on Twitter is already generating buzz. Use #LibraryCardSignUpMonth on Twitter to access ideas from last year, September 2020. The American Library Association has provided free, downloadable, social media headers, covers, posters, lawn signs, and even a fun Bingo game for you to use all month long.
No matter the month, a visit to the library is always a reason to celebrate!
- American Library Association. (n.d.). September is Library Card Sign-up Month. American Library Association. https://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/card
- Curry, K. & Kachel, D (2018, March 26). Why school librarians matter: What years of research tell us. Phi Delta Kappan.
- Oxley, P. (2006). Rudine Sims Bishop: Making a difference through Literature. Language Arts, 83(6), 552.
- Whitten, Labby, & Sullivan (2016). The impact of pleasure reading on academic success. The
Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research, 2(4), 8-64.
Nikki is a veteran educator, school librarian, Instructional Technology Facilitator, speaker, and ISTE Librarians Network President. Nikki is currently a Project Coordinator for Digital Learning here at Region 13.