Monday, September 14, 2015

Library of the Month: Wittenberg Birnamwood School District

It’s September and that means hitting the books. At the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District (WBSD) libraries that means hard work, collaboration, and BadgerLink!

Readers at WBSD
Image from WBSD
Like many public schools, the library technology program at WBSD faces some challenges due to budget restrictions and the reduction of full time media specialists. The district media specialist, Chris Stuffle, travels to all three schools and Jan Atkinson, Birnamwood's public and school librarian is part time. With an enrollment of over 1100 students, the district relies heavily on the dedication and skill of three wonderful library aides who are always ready to help library patrons find materials, access databases, solve computer and technical problems, and provide great book recommendations!

Readers at WBSD
Image from WBSD
Birnamwood Elementary and Middle School library is very unique. It is one of only two public libraries in the state that is joined with the school. It is such a valuable resource for the students to have access to an entire consortium of books and materials. Another bonus for the students is that the library is open beyond the normal school hours.

Last summer the Wittenberg Elementary and Middle School library was completely remodeled! The remodel included new shelving, carpet, paint, furniture, and updated computers. Shelving was donated by Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning and the Wayland Academy. The additional shelving has allowed for the continued expansion of the collection by providing about 40% more shelving space! A small computer lab is housed in the library which is actively used by students and is a staff development center for teachers. And students now flock to the library to enjoy the new atmosphere, sit in the comfy chairs, and browse the shelves.
Battle of the Books Competition
Image from WBSD

The principal at Wittenberg Elementary and Middle School, Vicky Haas, recently purchased a mobile laptop cart with the goal of meeting the computer access demands. A great support of the library and technology, Mrs. Haas is also planning for an additional wired lab within the next year!

All district 6th graders take a course dedicated to building information-research skills and learning to be ethical media users. After learning about copyright, the Creative Commons, website evaluation, and Internet searching skills, each 6th grader creates a movie-trailer style project based on a favorite chapter book. The project requires students to find graphics, photographs, sound effects, and music files that can be legally used and incorporate them into a short movie. The goal is " help students to efficiently sift through the immense amount information found on the internet, teach them to critically evaluate it, and be responsible technology users. " said, Chris Stuffle, District Media Specialist. The students rely heavily on BadgerLink to complete this project especially Soundzabound, EBSCO Multimedia Search, and Wisconsin Media Lab resources.

WBSD Computer Lab
Image from WBSD
BadgerLink is vital to the district's goal of integrating information technology skills across the curriculum and 6th grade isn’t the first time students hear about BadgerLink. Students in 3rd through 5th grade rely on BadgerLink as they delve into the world of writing research papers, evaluating information, and learning to cite materials. "I love the amount of research tools BadgerLink provides that are credible, that students have access to information with an accompanying citation, and the options available for students of all reading and grade levels!" says, Tami Kitowski, middle school teacher. BadgerLink provides easy access for students to locate primary sources, newspaper and magazine articles, and students and teachers can narrow search results by publication date, full text, and reading level. In the Fall, staff will be introducing students to Explora!

WBSD is dedicated to providing exceptional learning opportunities for all students and will be spending the next school year updating the information technology curriculum. The library staff is looking forward to the new school year and has many plans for new projects and reading opportunities!

Written by:
Kara Ripley, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning