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This kind of over-the-top anticipation of back-to-school “awesome” makes me laugh out loud. Educators benefit from enthusiastic motivation, as well.

Every school year is an opportunity to discover untapped potential, inspire the love of learning, and sharpen performance skills. And I’m not even talking about the students!

Educators are never done learning.

We know that this year there will be at least one student who will challenge everything we know, refuse to respond to every strategy, and make us question our career choice. There will be several students who exceed our expectations, at risk of becoming bored in a classroom, and teach us something new every day.

We want to be as ready as possible for that first day of school.

So, besides my hopes that the custodial staff will see my request to place tables back into the preferred configuration after a week of in-service teacher training, MY LIBRARY IS A GO!

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I work at a two-year Intermediate campus, using alternating themes. Last year I taught Constitutional principles using my Our Nation’s Foundations lesson plan. This year, I’ll use my Artifact Theme – Everything Tells a Story. Because our campus has just become a S.T.E.M. magnet school, I’ve modified my displays to incorporate more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math so that students’ time in the Library complements their classroom curriculum.

I invite my 5th and 6th graders to become Librarians in their own right- the kind modeled in the TNT TV show The Librarians. I want my students to notice and recognize how authors use objects to help make their stories even more fascinating and realize that artifacts don’t have to be old things someone digs out of the ground.

My library resembles a small museum this year. The tops of the low bookcases feature a variety of objects with which children of this new century may lack familiarity. A pair of 100-year-old binoculars inspire kids to look for unseen adventures. Boys especially, are drawn to a music box that displays the inner mechanism within. A candle snuffer stumps them all. Even a floppy disc from the 90s is a wonder.

I don’t create bulletin boards. I install interactive wall displays. The information grows and changes every time a class returns to the Library. Every display is an invitation to make cognitive connections and respond to the information.

This wall displays one silly invention and one smart invention. Students who read the information and respond to questions will be given a small prize. The small squares in the periphery are QR codes that students can access using Library iPads. These bring up short, amusing and informative videos about mechanical inventions like motorized Lego and Rube Goldberg creations.



This is where students can post short, creative stories about the items on display in our Library Museum. I encourage them to be as creative as possible. Some have been heavy on science fiction, and others have been touching glimpses into very perceptive and impressionable minds.

The QR codes posted here and on the next wall display feature short trailer videos from The Librarians TV show.

I’ve already posted my story about the antique zither that belonged to my grandmother-  the one that mysteriously played all by itself (twice!) one night in my bedroom when I was 16. Kids love that one, and when they ask why I think it happened, we have a spiritual discussion, because that’s the moment I felt claimed by the Holy Spirit.

Students are encouraged to take a card from the box to write about the objects they find in books that they read from our Library, helping them understand the reasoning that authors use for everything they write.

And, because teaching and modeling social skills are part of the job of every educator, this display invites students and teachers to “post” sentences of encouragement about learning. I affix “Like buttons” to the ones that inspire me.








Photo credit:



Hudson Reed Showers