Flipgrid and Scavenger Hunts: engaging students in summer prep sessions

Happy summer vacation!  I hope that you are all enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation in these first few weeks of summer. I know how much I am enjoying having the time with my husband and three month old!

There are times, however, when I find myself ruminating on updates to lessons or projects and making mental notes of new ideas to try next year. One of the biggest introductory sessions that I do is, of course, 9th grade library orientation. I invite our Form III English classes to the library for a two day library orientation, during which they complete a physical scavenger hunt of the library, followed by a virtual scavenger hunt of the library’s website. I always like to try out new activities, but it can be hard to “try” things with 6 classes in one day.

Luckily, for the past few years, I have been teaching a session as part of our “Summer Prep” program. New students attend classes with various teachers, explore the campus, and basically become more familiar with their new space so that the first day is not as overwhelming as it can be. I am happy to have the opportunity to spend time with these students; it gives me a taste of the year to come, and I am able to test out some new ideas for the library orientation.

This year, I am going to change things up just a bit, keeping in mind my goal for the session. Ultimately, I want every student to leave the library feeling not only comfortable enough to come to me to ask questions, receive help on a project, or just chat, but also comfortable enough to know that the library is a safe space for study, group work, and quiet relaxation.

I start the day with a sharing activity. We sit in a circle (who doesn’t love a good circle up activity?), and answer the question “What was the most memorable book you read as a child, and did someone read it with you (mother/father/grandparent etc.)?” I want the students to think back on the happy memories associated with reading and literature. I enjoy hearing what the students loved when they were younger, and it helps us develop our reading relationships. It also helps me remember student names, as I have a specific story associated with each student, thus making them unique in my mind.

Then, we move on to the physical scavenger hunt. In the past, I utilized a simple printed scavenger hunt, directing small groups of students to key spaces around the library. It worked fine; it was just a bit boring for my tastes. I need something to excite the students, and have them more engaged in the process. Enter Flipgrid.

I have used this platform in the past for video book reviews, and students enjoyed sharing their reviews via video (and customizing the video with add-ons and cartoon faces!). Students will visit key areas of the library, and create a 30 second response to a question posted at the section. Here are a few examples of the areas to be visited and questions to be answered:

  • (Biographies): How are the biographies arranged? Locate one biography that you are all interested in reading.
  • (Reference/Quiet Study): What kinds of materials are in the reference section? When do you anticipate needing an area for quiet study?
  • (Nonfiction): What categorization system is used to organize the books in the nonfiction section? Find the 940s. What topic is located in this area?

I imagine that this activity will take a bit longer than the simple printed version, but hopefully requiring the students to engage as a group will not only help them get to know the library but also one another. Click HERE to check out an example of the google form.

Our final activity will be a virtual library scavenger hunt. I have always used a Google Form for this, and it is an individual activity. The goal is to have students engage with and navigate through the library website, so that they are more comfortable when using it for class projects or research.

I may or may not have enough time for all of these activities during the summer prep lesson, so, like all good librarians, I plan on being flexible and guiding the kids throughout. Reflecting back on the lesson will provide me with valuable information on what worked and what didn’t, and how I can adapt the session to fit in a class period or two, and with smaller groups of students. If, after reviewing my ideas, you have any recommendations or suggestions, please send them my way! I am always eager for feedback, and happy to hear from my fellow independent school librarians. Now get back to your summer reading!

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