LBPSB Library Resources

A school librarian's toolbox


Minecraft in the Library

JackThere is a lot of buzz about Minecraft and the positive effects it can have in the learning and its place in the classroom.  Not sure what Minecraft is – check out this youtube video:

grade 7 (4)I really like this sandbox game.  Students use not only their imagination in creating their own worlds but must also use thought when planning out their structures .  In my school, there are quite a few students who love playing Minecraft.   I decided that I would challenge them at lunch hour to complete a series of tasks.  The player who could finish all the tasks would win a big bag of Skittles.  Not that they needed the Skittles as a motivator. The energy and excitement that this program created was crazy. I only announced it a few days beforehand and had a full roster of competitors the day before the challenge.I was lucky that on the day that I offered the challenge that we had a split 7 and 8 lunch hour. Below in the resources, I have attached the challenge that I gave to the students in my library.

grade 7  I knew that I would have to set down a series of rules and create a mindset so that this challenge would run smoothly.  I emphasized that this was a peaceful challenge (it seems that they like to blow up each others structures a lot).  The students had to be in creative mode using peaceful settings.  They were allowed to change the time settings so that they could always build in daylight.  Another requirement that I had was that they all had to have their own accounts.  Maybe in the future we can look into getting a school account and a server.  Students could play on the school computers or on their own devices as many of them had the pocket edition of the game on their phones and tablets.

ipadIt is amazing how quiet the room became when the challenge was started.  One student remarked, “It is so quiet except for the hardcore clicking”.  The students were so engaged and zoned in – concerned about detail and creating a perfect world.  After it was finished, they were immediately asking when the next challenge would take place and giving lots of suggestions on what it could be.  It was really nice to see their enthusiasm and I was happy that I was able to create a program that was of interest to them.

TristanIf you have never played this game and feel hesitant about having a program in your library, let me tell you now that you do not have to worry.  Everyone who plays this game knows exactly how to play it and usually they are more than ready to help each other out.  I noticed throughout this 45 minute challenge that students who were struggling were being guided by the person next to them.  There was a lot of cooperation going on in the room which I thought was amazing.  My advice is to give it a try; nothing ventured, nothing gained – believe me, you will gain a lot from hosting this program.

JustinMinecraft Resources:
Minecraft Challenge from Westwood Jr.
What you need to know about Minecraft
Minecraft Wiki
MinecraftEDU takes hold in schools

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from Westwood Jr and Mount Pleasant Elementary



Creative way to poll your students

question of the monthEvery month I pose a question to the students to answer.  Sometimes the questions are very simple like, if you could meet a book character, which one would you choose?  However, I do use this question of the month for other purposes – for instance – what do I need to work on in the library or what am I missing from the collection?   I received a lot of great answers when I asked what they would change if they were the librarian.  They wanted more seating, a fish tank, more computers and more graphic/manga books.  I found this to be really useful and bought more chairs and talked to the students about what type of manga they would like to see in the library.

question of the month aprilYesterday I posted a new question – if they had $30, which book would they buy at the book store.  I wanted to see the holes in the collection.  There were only 2 books that I did not have so I was happy to see that I am meeting their needs!

2015-04-09 09.00.29In order to get students that do not generally come into the library to participate, I offer lollipops as the incentive.  It gets them into the library and where they write their answer, I surround the area with books that might appeal to them.   I usually can get big bags (100 lollipops) at Walmart after the big holidays for $2.00.

It is really easy to manage and does not take much time to set up.  The reward is that you really get to know your students!

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from Westwood Jr. and Mount Pleasant Elementary

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Reading Fortunes


Looking for something fun to do with your students?  Why not do their reading fortunes?  This can work easily at the elementary and high school levels. It is really simple to set up.

All you need is:

prize for fortuneA couple of fortune tellers (click on the link for a template)

A pile of books to match the fortunes

A prize (this is the incentive to get them going)

What to do:

  • Announce the event (mine is running for 2 weeks)

  • Have some volunteers to help run the fortunes smoothly

  • Put evaluations in the books so that students can submit their names when they return the books (this also gives you an idea of what they thought of the book)

IMG_20150313_135507553 IMG_20150313_135603348 IMG_20150313_135618275

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from Westwood High School – Junior Campus and Mount Pleasant Elementary

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High School Book Clubs


Book Café is the name of our book club at school.  It is aptly named as the students can bring their lunches into the library and I supply juice (or hot chocolate) and desserts.  It is more of a book recommendation club in that students talk about their favourite books.  Lately I have found that the students get side-tracked and they just end up sitting there talking with their friends.   I wanted to bring the club back to being “about the books” so I have added some new elements and found new ideas  in order to get the students engaged in book talk.   I have noticed that this has made a huge difference.

Idea #1 –  Book Debate
This triggered a great response from the students.  A topic was given and the students had to take a position on the topic.  Topics were:

(1)   Is Voldermort inherently evil or a victim of circumstance?
(2)   Is the oracle from Percy Jackson really all-knowling or a fake?
(3)   Would you trust Katniss to protect you?

Idea #2 –  Bag full of Questions
This idea is more about the students relationship with books.  I grabbed this idea from the website Book Browse.  This also brought great answers as well as fantastic book recommendations.  Questions included:

(1)  Where do you like to read?
(2)  What book do you remember being read to you as a child?
(3)  Which book did you hate?
(4)  Which book would you bring on a deserted island?
(5)  If you had $30 to spend right now in a book store, which book would you buy?

Next month, I will be pulling out the iPads to show them book trailers.  I will then ask them to find a book trailer for the book they are currently reading or a past book that they loved.

What do you at your book clubs?

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from WWJR and Mount Pleasant Elementary

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Bookmark of the Week: School Library Association Star Ideas

sla-logoWhen the fountain runs dry, I know that I can always count on some inspiration from SLA’s Star Ideas.  The ideas are categorized by month but you can really mix and match what works best for you!

Here is a sample of ideas:

  • Start a words on the wall campaign; posting extracts of books in strategic places around the school; canteen, toilet doors, main entrances

  • Run breakfast clubs with lots of newspapers available

  • Run a quiz to guess the book title in translation or identify the foreign cover

  • Organize speed dating events for recommending books

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from WWJR and Mount Pleasant Elementary


High School Program Ideas

Looking for some ideas to do in your high school library?   Here are a few for the upcoming months:

paper cranes decBook Crane Reading Challenge: 
Beaconsfield High School did this last year with amazing results.  I borrowed the idea this year for Westwood Jr.  This challenge does two things:  (1) Promotes reading and (2) spruces up your library ceiling.  At first the students were not motivated to read but once they saw the cranes going up, they jumped on board to help reach our goal of 1000 cranes (which means that they have collectively will have read 1000 books).  At Westwood Jr, we have 630 cranes up!


print 12Blind Date with a Book:

I use this activity in February.  I challenge the students to take out a book which has been wrapped up.   If they read the book and complete the small questionnaire that I put in the book, they have a chance to win a gift card to chapters or iTunes.  Since it is a Valentines Day activity, I also give each student who returns a book a chocolate.


fortune teller  Book Fortune Teller:

This is something that I will be trying in the month of March.  It is seems like a fun idea.  In this example they use large Popsicle sticks and write a call number on them.  On other examples I have seen specific titles put on paper that students then choose.  In another example, there was the old school fortune teller paper which has genres listed on the final opening.




In my google search, I also stumbled across this great link for passive library programs:

What ideas do you have to share?

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from Westwood Jr.

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Teen Read Week: October 12-18

read for the fun of it bulletin board

Looking for a program to promote your library?  Teen Read Week is a great opportunity to create enthusiasm in the library by offering different activities or challenges.  Westwood Jr. will be celebrating from October 10-17 with tons of activities which include a bookmark challenge, a “do you know your library website challenge?” as well as activities such as Superhero jeopardy and book café.  In order to get students to participate in some of the activities, I am offering up prizes for some of the activities.  Simple things like a $10 itunes card and $5 Scholastic gift certificates for the book fair.

Looking for ideas?  The best place to look at is at the YALSA website:

Submitted by Kathy Conroy from WWJR