So you want to make a flowchart?

At many of our schools, we are currently celebrating the Christmas season, aka the season of giving. This seems to be the time when many families purge through their homes to clear out items to make way for new presents that will be arriving shortly. A few weeks ago, on a morning when I had two boxes of book donations set aside to mail to Better World Books, I had the following conversation with myself:

“Hey Christina, I bet people have no idea what goes through your head when they ask about donating books to the library.”

“Yes, I bet only librarians would understand that there’s a whole flowchart of questions I want to ask.”

“A flowchart!?! What a great idea. You should make that flowchart and share it with other librarians.”

Silly mind, how you trick me. I did indeed make a flow chart, and I can promise you that it’s not the 15 minute task that I envisioned. It was completed over a few days as I waited for classes to come to the library or proctored lunch or found other pockets of free time. And I’m sharing that process as well as the result because it made be reconsider some of the tasks that we are asking our students.

I have known teachers who have assigned students tasks like podcasts or posters without knowing how to use the technology themselves. These assignments come to my attention because I hear from the students when they have questions about how to best use the technology to complete their vision. Teachers can be comfortable mastering the content while leave the technology mastery to others. I think this is good to a point. There is a limited amount of time that students will spend on an individual task and sometimes they get caught up on the “bells and whistles” rather than the “meat and potatoes.” (For example, rather than proofreading an essay for content, they’ll make sure that they have beautiful headers with page numbers and a perfectly-formatted bibliography.) Not always, but sometimes. Which is why it’s important to use thoughful backwards design and rubrics to make sure the focus is where it was intended.

In my case, I had a general idea, and I started by talking with the Technology Integration Coordinator. Did she have any ideas for good flowchart apps? She did not but suggested I play around with some to figure what I liked best. Totally fine, but we all know what kind of rabbit hole this slips into… I ended up settling on Google Drive’s drawing feature, and I began building my flowchart. Shapes moved and moved back and there were many iterations. At one point I actually cut out my little pieces from the printout and moved them around on my desk because manual manipulation was easier for me. For most of the time, I was thinking about how to organize it, not what to say.


Anyway, here’s the final result. I’ve included the editable link. That way, you can enlarge it enough to read it in your screen. Or you can save it and adapt it for your own population.


Discussions on the AISL listserv have shown me that Better World Books has been a more helpful resource for some schools than for others, and I’m betting that not every school has a consignment store. But I thought I’d share just a bit of what runs through my head when someone stops by with a box of books and tells me, “I think the library might want these.”
Do you accept unsolicited donations? Any other solutions that have worked well for your school in the past?

5 thoughts on “So you want to make a flowchart?

  1. LOVE this!!! Wish there were a box for “So you do realize that this book may not be here forever….you cna’t come back 15 years from now and pitch a fit because it has been weeded!”–:-) Thanks for this, its terrific!

    • Absolutely! We have a few “birthday books” donated to people who are teachers now from when they were students. Need to not only get rid of the book but the nametag….

  2. Thanks guys! It is a tough situation. I’m always happy that people are thinking of the library, but at the same time I don’t want to be a dumping post. But on the third hand (librarians have those, right) it’s a tricky social situation if the donators in question are teachers with whom you want to work more closely.

Leave a Reply

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