Guest Blogger

Outside the Box Thinking for Out of School Learning #alsc22

Liz McChesney and Sue Abrahamson began their session on Learning Beyond: The Urgency of Summer and the ALSC Toolkit for Summer and OST Programming with an out-of-box ice breaker. They had us open our phones and share a picture with someone we didn’t know. I shared this photo of my loveable and frustrating beagle, Dan.

Photo courtesy Jessica Zimmerman Smith

I know he looks hungry. He always looks hungry even as he’s chowing down YOUR food.

Although my dog had nothing to do with the presentation, the unique conversation starter did. Liz McChesney and Sue Abrahamson challenged the participants in the room to reframe our thinking about Summer Reading programs and instead focus on programming for Out of School Time programming.

If the schools your library serves are like mine, school testing data continue to exhibit the devastating impact of COVID-19 on learning outcomes, especially for children in marginalized populations. While there are no fast remedies for learning losses, libraries play a crucial role in bringing equity to educational recovery.

How? Through programming that incorporates:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Creative thinking
  3. Fostering communication between peers
  4. Developing critical thinking skills

Libraries can add these elements in programs scaled to the age of participants. The presenters had us work in teams to create a machine to help the main character in Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip get the turnip out of the ground. My team considered using leverage to pry the turnip out of the garden bed.

Photo courtesy Jessica Zimmerman Smith

That hands-on activity demonstrated how easy it was to integrate critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity into any program. I know that I will bring back these examples to my library team to bring equity to learning in our community.

These 75 minutes were full of examples, research, and ideas. I won’t be able to share it all, or this would be a book, not a blog post. If you want to learn more, visit ALSC’s Summer Learning Toolkit .

Share this toolkit with your staff, get community partners on board, and market the summer learning and out-of-school programming to the schools and other organizations in your service area. 

Libraries must model equity in service. Find training to prepare staff, seek collaborative partnerships and mitigate the devastating learning losses some of our most vulnerable and marginalized children experienced.

What out-of-the-box programming idea have you created that includes collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking?

Guest contributor Jessica Zimmerman Smith (she/her/hers) is the Children’s Services manager at Morley Library in Painesville, Ohio. Jessica grew up in a rural Ohio county with half its population identifying as Amish. Although not Amish herself, the robust Outreach and Bookmobile services ensured she was never without access to reading material. At Institute 2022, she is most looking forward to absorbing new ideas and making new connections to support her professional growth and to provide new services to her Northeast Ohio community.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *