The event started with a welcome and speeches in the auditorium. Kerry Kennedy, instead of giving a speech, interacted with students, engaging them in questions about human rights. Later, in the library, she and other guests went around talking to our students about their showcased work. It was an incredible opportunity for our students to present to an authentic audience. Everyone could see the effort our students had put forth.
Today, more than ever, we must prepare our students to be global citizens. As technology helps connect us across the world, our students need to develop a global perspective and understanding so they can contribute meaningfully to society and help find solutions.
The AASL standards make it clear that community connections, both local and global, are important to educating future citizens, as is connecting to real-world events. Both the shared foundations of Include and Engage discuss learners and global learning communities. The Future Ready Librarian Framework also calls on us to develop partnerships across our schools and communities.
In our library we use a variety of ways to connect, bringing in special speakers, video conferencing, or even using virtual reality to bring a more immersive understanding.
It is important for us to be aware of our district's mission and goals so we can contribute to helping meet them through our library program. In our district, connecting with communities locally and globally to promote peace and understanding comes up high on the list. For a number of years now we have had a district-wide peace walk, concert, and art exhibit to celebrate International Day of Peace and International Non-Violence Day. Our district has also begun installing peace poles to promote peace in our community, and this year we will be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. We have also had a number of prominent human rights speakers come to our school.
Kerry Kennedy came for our Speak Truth to Power Human Rights Symposium last February. Speak Truth to Power (STTP) is a project of the nonprofit organization Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. This human rights education program engages students and encourages them to take action through the experiences of human rights defenders from around the world
One of our teachers helped write the curriculum and is also the advisor for our Human Relations Club. Teaming up with the club, which promotes the idea that students can make a difference, has provided a way for our library program to contribute and connect our students to real-world issues and empower them with ways they could make an impact locally and globally. Students in the club participate in fundraising activities and community service. The library program supports their initiatives, showing video clips and allowing students from the club to set up a table and interact with students. Students in the club are taught how to utilize the resources in our makerspace to promote awareness of social issues, for example our button maker and video equipment. We also support our teachers by finding resources to enhance the STTP curriculum.
My colleague and I were initially approached about the human rights symposium because a space was needed to host it. Of course, being librarians and natural collaborators we sought to find out more. What role could we play to support the implementation of the STTP curriculum and how could we contribute to making the event a success with our expertise and resources?
At a planning meeting, we teamed up with others to help make the event a success. Having had experience with other events in the library, I was able to give valuable input. The logistics of fitting three classes into the library to present their work and host guests required some planning. The flexible furniture from our library redesign, facilitated making more space for this special event. We rolled away the shelving on wheels, our collaboration table, and lounge chairs. This is exactly what I had envisioned when selecting mobile furniture. Art boards to showcase student work were added to the corners of the room. Students from the business class created PowerPoints on human rights defenders that they could take turns presenting at our Aquos boards. The English/special education class worked on posters and used our flexible desk area. The social studies human rights class used our back room to present PowerPoints. We also had a special area for the school board, administrators, and dignitaries.
Prior to the event, we had students use the library podium to practice reading poems. We provided feedback on pacing and delivery. We also provided a space for students to create posters and print out presentations. I introduced Flipgrid to the teachers and students and started a Speak Truth to Power Flipgrid, encouraging our students to post videos about what they learned.
As librarians we have the research, technology skills, and resources to help make our school and district events shine. If we don't know something we can connect with someone who does or use problem solving skills to figure out a solution. Now more than ever librarians need marketing and outreach skills. You are the PR person for your library program and have the ability to assist with your school and district PR. Below are some of the ways we were able to help out with the STTP symposium.
Before the event, teachers were first encouraged to attend the professional development on Speak Truth to Power. We helped the Human Relations Club advisor create a Google Classroom for it and we became co-teachers and posted resources there. Our school had recently gone 1:1 with Chromebooks so Google Classroom was new for all of us. We found that by embedding ourselves as co-teachers we could simultaneously assist both teachers and students.
We utilized the button maker from our Innovation Lab to create buttons that were given out to attendees. My co-librarian loves coming up with designs, and I knew that adding the Freeport Schools logo would top it off. Our administrators loved the buttons. It was our first time using the button maker for a school-wide event and have since used it for district-wide events as well. We have now been able to train students to create buttons. I wasn't initially sure about getting a button maker, but it has really been a great tool to use to connect with students, staff, administrators, school board members, and even legislators. We now include "created by FHS Library" on the back of all our buttons, making them a great way to also promote our library.
The annual Speak Truth to Power Video Contest is a middle and high school contest where students create and submit a three-to-five minute film on a human rights issue (https://rfkhumanrights.org/work/teaching-human-rights/contests/video-contest). This contest provided another opportunity for our students to utilize our Innovation Lab equipment. We have a Padcaster, which turns the iPad into a mobile video production studio students can use to create videos. The contest gives students real world experience in creating a video to educate others on an important human rights issue and an authentic audience.
Another very simple way to participate in school-wide events is by creating banners. Several banners were requested for above the auditorium entrances and inside and outside the library. This is something very visible to administrators that can later help you when you request funding for ink or other resources. We are always looking for ways to show the library program is part of a larger team and support our school administrators. We even got to know our new assistant superintendent better by staying late to help decorate Showcasing how the library supports the district's goals through the resources and skills you have available leaves you in a better position to advocate for your program.
School librarians play a vital role in making resources accessible within and beyond the library walls. We must connect with our district and school community in order to develop relationships and enhance our program. We must also look for ways to connect beyond our local communities, across our nation, and globally.
"Daughter of late Sen. Robert Kennedy visits Freeport H.S."News 12 Long Island. http://www.news12.com/Clip/14114331/daughter-of-late-sen-robert-kennedy-visits-freeport-hs
"Students Become Defenders of Truth." Freeport Public Schools. http://www.freeportschools.org/news/article.aspx?id=55582 Accessed Nov.11, 2018.
"Kerry Kennedy Visit." February 10, 2018. Freeport Public Schools video, 40:00. https://livestream.com/accounts/23787498/KENNEDY/videos/169951120
Luna, Rose. "Speak Truth to Power: A Ripple of Hope." Feb.8, 2018. Freeport Public Schools video, 1:55. https://video214.com/play/uBYF0BPvAKP1BxC18Q1OSw/s/dark