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Posted: December 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Media specialist makes library an extension of the classroom

Carrie Huenke/

 Media specialist Kimberly Ramsey has spent the past several years diligently collaborating with teachers at Oak Hill Elementary to ensure that the library there is an extension of each classroom.

 In many ways, Oak Hill’s library has become the hub of the school since the building opened in 2001. With permission from teachers, individual students are allowed to visit the large but comfortable room throughout the school day for extra research and to check out books. Teachers often visit the library with entire classes in tow once a week. Ramsey has the teachers fill out an online form before classes attend so that she will know ahead of time what each class is studying so that she will know how effectively to enhance students’ understanding of topics being covered in class.

 "School libraries are very important," she said. "Media specialists do teach. We are all about working together with classroom teachers."

 When pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes attend the library as groups, Ramsey often reads aloud and then provides plenty of time for wee ones to familiarize themselves with the library and how it operates. With older students, Ramsey utilizes the Activboard which is a 21st century learning tool designed to engage students in the learning process. It looks like an enormous computer projected onto a movie screen. Students enjoy being called upon to use the system’s pointer in order to "click on" correct answers to questions about books they have read or concepts they have been studying.

 "All the kids get really quiet when we use the Activboard," Ramsey said. "They know they will only be called up to use it if they are on their best behavior."

 Ramsey has only one of two Activboards at Oak Hill and said the county is aiming to have them in most classrooms in the future. She said the elaborate computer system connects to the Internet and enables teachers all over the world to share educational material and information. It can be programmed to help students master a wide variety of subjects and many class activities can be programmed in as well. Ramsey used Oak Hill’s media center budget to buy the Activboard last April and then attended a class over the summer to learn how to utilize most effectively its components.

 In addition to interesting technology, Oak Hill’s media center contains more than 18,000 books. Ramsey has estimated that at least 750 are checked out at the circulation desk on a daily basis.

 "We really do have a lot of books here," Ramsey said. "It’s a great thing to have so many because a lot of studies show a direct correlation between a well stocked library that utilizes collaboration between media specialists and teachers and how this affects test scores."

 Ramsey said she is assisted in her library-oriented responsibilities by media clerk Linda Gourley who runs the circulation desk, keeps the equipment working and keeps the shelves in order.

 "She is my right hand," Ramsey said. "Without her, I would not be able to focus on teaching."

 Before becoming a media specialist, Ramsey worked as a second grade teacher in both Coweta and Newton counties. She made the career switch four years ago in an effort to encourage kids to read.

 "The old saying that reading is fundamental is really true," she said. "I really loved teaching second grade, but after so many years, I wanted to try something new. Reading is so much fun and I knew I’d be able to really promote that concept as a media specialist."

 According to Ramsey, today’s students have eased up on reading books that are well known to older generations. Book series such as ‘The Boxcar Children," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Nancy Drew" have given way to more modern stories. Today, kids prefer "The Bailey School Kids," "Harry Potter," "Arthur," "Junie B. Jones" and "Goosebumps."

 "We still have the older books here in our library but they are less popular," she said. "Kids like different things these days, but we just want them reading. If they are excited about reading, we will accommodate them."

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