Stacked in Our Favor

Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Battle Fatigue - Mock Caldecott Group End of Week Six

A number of events converged to make this an interesting week for our participants. Our district had an in-service day which meant that few of us were in our regular spots. For many of us that meant one less day to get our reviews done.

Many of us have succumbed to the nasty chest cold we are sharing. That didn’t exactly help our ability to review this week’s quota of books.

But most difficult of all was the closing of grades for the semester. Correcting papers, calculating grades and posting them will take priority for the next week. That makes it really tough to stay on top of reviewing for all but the most die-hard children’s lit enthusiasts.

When we started the group people clustered together, sharing their thoughts as they went. Looking for inspiration, validation and ideas. This week I saw a big shift. A number of people sought to do their books in isolation. It seems that some people have gotten beyond the honeymoon stage of uncertainty and the need for approval. They now have built the confidence that their ability is up to the task. Blocking out distraction in order to get the task done with precision and speed is more the issue at this point.

Those who do stop by to swap opinions will never find me short of the interest in discussion. Still, I’m excited by how people who weren’t confident at first are quite able to do their own assessments and apologize to no one for their opinions.

Having said that, there are certainly feelings of overwhelm and panic. How will we meet the goal in the time we have? I don’t know, but it will all be learning. I continue to find new books I want to view. It’s all practice.

I think about next year and hope that I will be fortunate enough to do this again. If so, I think there are some things I can do to make this process easier.

1.     Start recording the books from which to select from the reviews from the first review source in January. That will make this process much easier to keep up with. I didn’t start a spreadsheet until August this year giving me too much to catch up with.
2.     Even if I am going to offer this in the fall season, I think it would be best for me to review as many as I can in the spring and (here comes the key point) eliminate the obvious books. I have more motivation for this project than my participants need to have and so I will review many more books. Give them the higher end of the scale. When some of the book arrived it was very obvious that they would not be contenders. Perfectly appropriate in another context, but not one we would need to review.
3.     Vet the books we will review more carefully to make sure that the illustrators of each book qualify for the medal.
4.     Be more clear about what the expectations on the review forms are. Some people felt they had to write volumes for each book. That was more than I would expect.
5.     Readjust the target for how long it takes to review a book. It takes longer than I believed it would. 

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