By Killeen, Erlene
Teacher Librarian , Vol. 37, No. 3
We have ambitious children. We have dreamers. We have students with high hopes, great expectations, and lofty goals. During the primary years they imagine themselves doing all sorts of wonderful things--playing professional sports, starring in movies, teaching children, driving 16-wheelers, raising cattle, painting masterpieces, recording songs, and yes, writing books!
Often our students say, "Someday, when I ..." finishing the sentence with whatever is their greatest wish. Are their goals realistic, attainable, or worthwhile? Only time will answer those questions.
What is the teacher-librarian's response to their wishing and dreaming? It needs to be YES! Go for it! Learn all about it! This is our hidden curriculum. This is our other objective, the one not written within a specific subject area nor scored on the standardized tests. This is the life-long learning goal and the life-changing, life-affirming message. Teacher-librarians have what you need, what you want, and what you can use for every part of your life!
The school library media center is one place that all those wishes, dreams, and yearnings can be kept alive. We can provide role models, instruction, visioning, and experiences that will contribute to every future hope. Beyond our role as curriculum teacher, we share information about all aspects of life and develop skills our students can use for the rest of their lives. Our interest centers, our web site links, our materials and equipment collections, and our expertise need to provide each child a way to learn about what interests them most in life.
My advice to all of my students is to learn as much as they can about any subject that interests them. To those who want to be writers, my advice is, "Read more. The best way to learn to write is to read constantly." As they search for ideas to research and write about, I encourage them to look at what interests them. Biographies are naturally the easiest since they can read about someone who has gone before them, but offering little twists to other areas of study often helps a student become more engaged. I repeat this litany to all students for all types of interests. If they love movies, I tell them to learn how they are made, which movies are considered the best, and why. If they want to be truck drivers, I say learn about their inner workings, study maps, learn about our country's roads, and study commerce.
Will this strategy work in other ways? What do they most want to learn about and what do they have to accomplish in their learning goals? Someone's into fishing and we are studying landforms. That student needs to choose a landform that edges water. Someone else loves performing and seeks out native dances of the country being studied in class. A student that loves to sing can write and record a song about her math facts.
I have a student who is obsessed with Disney's High School Musical (2006) and tries to center much of his work on a topic related to that! …