Building literacy at BVE

Building literacy at BVE
Posted on 10/18/2016
When staff at Bernice Vossbeck Elementary showed up all wearing orange construction shirts, the students understood that teachers and librarian Susan Fiebig were serious about the new literacy theme at BVE.

“When the teachers expand on it and get into it, the students understand what it all means for the year,” Fiebig says of the 2016-2017 literacy theme Building Futures.

At the end of each school year, Fiebig meets with teachers to develop a literacy theme for the following year. Last spring head custodian Mason Wauda came up with the winning theme of tying together districtwide construction with literacy, forming the Building Futures idea.

“Then the teachers run with it,” Fiebig says. “Staff runs with it. It is about building bright futures and some teachers have done their own take on it, building foundations for successful students.”

The library, located in a central BVE location, which helps make it a hub of school activity, and the surrounding walls fill with decorations of the theme. One hallway took on a “freeway to success” theme, adorned with encouragement on what success requires with reminders of honesty, pride, trust, teamwork and plenty more. And, of course, there are plenty of construction visuals to make the area quite noticeable.

Fiebig says she works to expand on the Building Futures theme with the students, whether discussing how to choose the right books to learn or traits and skills that will help them become productive students now and in the future.

The excitement around each year’s theme and literacy in general has really served to propel the BVE library forward, making it an integral part of the school.

“We have great resources for the staff and the students are always looking for the next new book and are telling me what they’ve read,” Fiebig says.

Library Helper
With an excitement around the library comes a desire to get involved. This year’s new library helper program puts that excitement into action.

In the past, the fourth grade students at BVE all took turns rotating through jobs in the library, but a schedule change last year meant the fourth graders could no longer take on that role. So this year, to get some of the fourth graders who missed out a chance and really make the library helpers a more robust program, Fiebig set up a new system that required a student application.

About 50 students applied—they were required to fill out a real-life job application that included signatures from teachers and parents—and Fiebig selected 12 fourth graders and 10 fifth graders.

“I really wanted kids who wanted to do it, were interested in library skills and learning the ins and outs and behind-the-scenes of the circulation desk,” she says.

The selected group meets every Wednesday to discuss job duties and the tasks get broken into early morning book pickup, students organizing titles during recess and a third group placing books on the shelves late in the day.

“It is a cool thing and they are super excited,” Fiebig says.