The Think Tank at Work: Launching a Pilot Project & Staff Buy-In

We’ve recently opened up and expanded the LittleeLit Think Tank (it’s a Google Group) as a support network for folks interested in developing promising practices around young children, new media & libraries. If you want to join, contact us and/or checkout the brand-spanking-new LittleeLit Facebook group!

Here’s a discussion that happened recently about launching a new media storytime pilot project and getting other staff members on board

Hi Everyone,

My library has approved my request to purchase some technology for use in storytimes! I’m pretty pumped about this since it’ll be the first time any sort of tech besides a CD player has been implemented.

Unfortunately, I’m the only person doing storytime who is on board with this and I’m starting to freak out. I’m going to be researching and implementing this all on my own and it’s kind of terrifying. I have used an iPad in storytime once before to see if my parents would be into the idea and they loved it so I know that I have their support, but it just seems like such a big project for only one person.

Any good vibes/words of wisdom/encouragement would be appreciated!

I’ll make sure to take lots of pictures and write a blog post about my experience.

Responses were as such:

Stephen Tafoya:

My first thought before anything else is to get the iPad into the hands of staff. Load it up with kids apps (fun things like Toca Hair Salon, Endless Alphabet, Mother Goose on the Loose). Just make it casual (with excitement), “Hey, come check this app out! I’m thinking about doing it in storytime, what do you think?” Let them play, train them if you need to, talk to them about how a particular app will increase a particular early literacy skill. BE EXCITED! 🙂 ALWAYS! (even if you do feel freaked out, don’t show that part).

But get it into their hands, and even if they don’t like it in the end, at least they had access to the technology and idea versus just forming an opinion without trying it. If you get it in their hands, you are more likely to get staff buy in by showing them the benefits and taking away any initial fear they had in the first place. And who knows, you may get someone who says, “I love what you are doing here. Can I help you implement this in storytime?”

Genesis Hansen:

Our staff has been training to do exactly this kind of thing, and what makes all the difference for many of them is seeing it in action. There was a definite “aha” moment when Cen first demonstrated how you would use a digital book in a storytime setting. Now they are really excited about getting their own hands on the equipment. But they really want to practice a lot and feel confident before they “go live” in a real storytime, and that’s totally understandable.

If schedules allow, you might ask a couple of co-workers to watch you do a run-through and give you feedback. It will demystify the process for them, and be helpful for you as well. If you can win over one or two people it won’t be just you advocating for the technology.

And you can also start small – you don’t have to go all digital if it feels overwhelming. Start with one thing and build from there to add in more digital elements as you feel you can manage them.

Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

Anne Hicks:

Maybe showing your coworkers what other librarians are doing would get them excited.

I did a presentation last Friday to a group of children’s librarians and included a few videos so people could get an idea of what I was talking about.

I showed a video of Cen doing a storytime in the children’s museum (I liked this one because you can hear the oooo’s and ahhhh’s of the kids as she reads Byron Barton’s Trucks on the iPad). I also showed the video Cen did for California’s Early Learning with Families where she sings the color song (btw Cen, I’ve had that song in my head for about 7 days now and can’t get it out!). Lastly, I showed a video from one of my storytimes when I used the Animal Sounds app  (the quality of the video is bad because it was taken with a cell phone but I think it showed that kids were really into it/excited).

Fran Simon:

Congratulations! How exciting!

I recommend:

  • Picking one tool on which to focus first.
  • Try observing others using the tool first. There are lots of examples on YouTube (some of which are examples of poor practice and others that are great.)
  • Be sure to consider the age of the children with whom you will be working when making decisions about which tools, ebooks, apps and software to use.
  • Don’t get stuck in the ebook/app box. There are lots of other ways to use the tools you’ve purchased. Think strategically and creatively. About weaving traditional materials in with your technology, and think about how you might take some of your tried and true activities and either extend them with your tech tools or transition them to technology completely.
  • You may want to team up with volunteers or other librarians to plan and implement the first steps.

if you don’t already know about Common Sense Media, check out the ratings for ebooks, apps, and other media to help guid your decisions. Of course you are already familiar with the ALA great websites for kids page, and you should check out Fred Rogers Center’s ELE site. You may find relevant content on my SlideShare page or the book I co-authored with Karen Nemeth, Digital Decisions: Choosing the Right Technology Tools For Early Childhood Education. Of course, both of these resources are for early childhood, but you may find helpful information.

As Karen and I often say, you may find that technology is not appropriate in every circumstance, but when it makes sense it is very powerful and engaging.

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Posted on February 16, 2014, in Literacy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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