“Libraries” = Creating+Preservation + Creativity+Risk Taking+ Discarding the Box

As a 2016-2017 school year approaches, there is MUCH to look back on and use as a springboard to what is to come.  Of course, as you well know, it is QUITE easy to miss these past activities and let them be just that, the past.  OR, you can become a new person and allow those moments, those experiences, to shape you in ways that not just push you into the future, but PROPEL you into rooms you never knew existed.

Back in October of 2015 (yes I actually remember this) – a colleague sent me an article titled – Reinventing the Library.  Going back to March 0f 2015, an even better article on what gets kids reading was another complement to an idea.

Looking back is an amazing tool and this is why in a few examples:

We were amazingly asked as a student magazine, Repentino., to cover an experience using the Google cardboard/Google Expeditions experience at our school.  I have purposely been waiting to develop and release those articles for several reasons and also realized sometimes ideas need to percolate before releasing them.  It was an amazing experience to have CTE come to a student organization, such at Repentino., to have responsibility of taking adventures and covering them, and really processing them.  Truly, the processing became students being involved in a project-based task and processing, linking, and brainstorming how this could end up going larger, into the public forum.  I LOVED that this occurred in our Upper School Library.  As articles developed, other events began to appear.

Summer school. Wow.  I volunteered at first and thought after,ugh.  WHY? WHY WHY WHY?  My summer, needs to be summer school free!  – and yet.   I had the unique opportunity to grow in ways I never expected, ever.  Sure all groups of people are headed in all directions and I wanted to be counted as part of that.  Then after the final week, I realized I HAD BEEN traveling in directions I never expected and didn’t realize!  One of the Math courses combined the use of Aurasama to recognize individual created POSTERS, (I thought of this being a QR code- with no QR code and total images being recognized, it was Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.26.30 AMCRAZY GREAT!) – and then later seeing students work through the challenges of Wintercroft masks that used math every single step of the way.  THIS WAS JUST ONE CLASS!

The Yo-Yo class sounded hysterical on paper, yet, when you saw the interaction, the LOVE of learning something, and then seeing these students perform to music as a show, it was amazing.  Then you would see students taking a new skill, and turning around and teaching each other, on their own – a skill that stemmed from a Yo-You and actually tapped into how students become educators themselves.  Watching the dance classes start with Thriller but seeing the students break out of a shell that could not be cracked through many experiments – it was unexplainable.

Math also utilizing current cuttings of plants we grow here and developing conservation-based  ideas with products we have growing and maintaining here on the roof – which led to students writing grants to help sustain projects tied to this initiative.

From my own experience in Reading and Writing, we started to dig into projects that would go beyond the classroom, that would actually interact with future, potential community projects, and we discovered Jane Goodall’s Institute and began experimenting with reading and writing in the summer school classes, applying what we were learning to our classroom and then beyond through a program called Roots & Shoots.  Add to that students writing articles tied to art out of Reading and Writing, (their work becoming published) and again, paths never conceived before.  I had become the student, the student, the teacher.

As the summer ended, I had completed one graduate course acknowledged by the University of Colorado, at Boulder, acquired 20 Professional Development hours, and walked away with a curriculum, ideas of projects that could change small and large communities, and redefined what the term LEADER meant based on how you inspire projects to affect learners in a social, educational, and personal way.

ALL THE WHILE, a student and I started a path to creating an internship program that would impact communities in Mexico, acquire young teachers that would be part of a growing intern initiative, and eventually turn into an academy where students from all over the world would TRUMPET back to Trump’s claim that to make American great, you need to build walls, need to move away from those living outside of the United States, and as Trump went on putting down anything that was defined as America (in his terms) outside of North America, forgetting America was STILL Central, Latin, South, North and yes, even Greenland, student around me were developing projects that brought students here to acquire the true Mexico, breaking DOWN stereotypes of what Mexico specifically means to others, and what Mexico IS.  Students were developing real-life answers to real life problems that began in streotyping – that started with adults.  This was an amazing summer of possibility that would begin to turn into a reality check – and students were responsible.

All of this in one summer, ONE summer, that has led to so many possibilities, for the future – that if you look where it started, it started with the library s a hub.  A hub for discovering how technology can be used in the community, used among each other for pushing creativity and technology, reaching out to ideas that at first seemed dreams, and realizing, libraries were centers for technology, media maturity and interpretation, discovering how to hone your skills in research, discovery, application, an area to discuss future potentials of hands-on project based learning, oh, and yeah, we also have books.

There are game changers in life, yet some prefer to wear masks and hide themselves from what can be a game-chnager in lives of those around us.  I was lucky enough to be part of so many amazing discoveries this summer, those around me decided we need to grow this to latch onto this and make these discoveries a reality.  Students around us I found, turn the instructor into a student, if you are lucky enough.  In turn, the classroom becomes a laboratory, where students conduct experiments to see how they can impact the largest laboratory of all, the world.  The Library, the Media Center, the creative makerspace, despite a myriad of titles, if you simply consider a library the storehouse of all things literary, you are only truly  teacher, and not an educator, which – believe me, the world needs educators more than teachers.

I am still finding to stay refreshed and amped up all year long, instead of being asked at the beginning of the year to find the curriculum that leads to better test scores as a goal, to be led by students and be a leader due to the dreams, ambitions, contributions and ideas, and potential leadership students have, turning the educator, BACK into student.  This is what a library does, turns the “outside the box” ideas, throws the box away, and creates a product recycled from cardboard, ideas, dreams, and technology, and redefines learning.  It is looking to be a very bright 2016-2017 year  :)








About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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