Attached, please find a collage of several drawings from the sixth grade students where our daughter teaches at Robert L. Bland Middle School in Weston, Lewis County.
I read there once a week, and they know how much I enjoy artwork. I love The Indian in the Cupboard and hand out plastic cowboys and Indians about halfway through the book and tell them that, all they are missing is the cupboard.
You can see the little wheels turning. I love to stimulate the imagination — what if…?
What a rich history our country has – and life’s lessons that go along with it.
I also read in three pre-K classes with Upshur County Head Start in Buckhannon, including one which my wife teaches.
The smiles and hugs are the most wonderful rewards.
It was lonely in Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s library when Angie Westfall became the media specialist there. Few students were dropping in
and fewer were checking out books. “How can I change this?” she wondered.
Westfall began by talking with students and listening carefully to their answers. She partnered with the West Virginia Library Commission. She culled library shelves of outdated books and began replacing them with volumes popular with teens. She decided to think like a marketer and she made visiting the library fun. At the end of her first year, a remarkable total of 1,340 books had been checked out.
West Virginia Library Commission
Angie Westfall is quick to say that she could not have done this alone. The staff of the Library Commission consulted with her on pulling outdated books from the shelves, and they established an interlibrary loan system.
And what happened to the old books? Westfall, students and faculty worked together to build Christmas “book trees.” One was six feet tall and was built with more than 1,000 volumes. Artistic students took the most battered and created book art from them. Old magazines became decorative snowflakes.
“We up-cycled,” she said. “The students loved it.”
Theme of the Month
Westfall uses a theme every month to pique student interest. October’s theme centered on murder, mayhem and mystery. November’s themes included hunting and fishing, cooking, family and politics. She uses props like stuffed bear heads to create interest, and she displays pertinent literature prominently.
“I try to get students in, and I ask them what they are interested in. Then I say, ‘I have a book about that.’”
Thinking like a marketer
Westfall and other teachers create displays in the library, and she puts magazines in wall racks at the back so they are highly visible and so that students have to walk through the library. She displays books in key spots “like Wal-Mart displays things on the shelves’ end caps,” she explained.
Her library might be the only one in the state where, during October, it looked like a crime scene. She used tape to create the outline of a body; students streamed in to pose and take “selfies.” Another time she had funny glasses, mustaches and hats for another round of selfies.
“Kids come in, and then they bring their friends,” she said.
Wait. There’s more!
West Virginia authors Bill Lepp and Traci Loudin presented workshops in the library. Any interested student was welcome to attend.
Angie takes her students to nearby Wesleyan College so they can experience and become comfortable with a college library. She alerts the public library that students are working on particular projects so they can prepare.
And always there is her listening ear. “Why do you come to the library? What do you like about it?” she asks.”
She summarized, “If I can get them in, maybe I can get a book in their hands.”
Nikki Moses is the former editor of the Read Aloud newsletter and a board member. She is an active volunteer in the Charleston community.