This is the first of 3 posts from this summer’s cohort of GATE CITY, joining the rest of Cohort 2 this fall.
Melissa McHugh, Kerry Kubat, Maja Ignjic
Manchester, New Hampshire, a city that has long been a resettlement area for families from all across the world has more than 60 languages spoken in the school system. That number keeps growing with Nepalese, Sudanese, Iraqis and other recent arrivals joining children whose ancestors immigrated many years ago. With such a melting pot in the city it is important for all residents to learn about utilizing all the fantastic resources the city has to offer.
While thinking about assisting our multicultural community in a meaningful way we started looking at all the services Manchester has to offer. We came to realize that one of the city’s gems is the Manchester City Library. The Manchester library incorporates many useful resources for students and families alike to be able to utilize. From audio books, artwork, museum passes and even an entire children’s center there is something for everyone to enjoy.
We decided to contact the Manchester English Learners Summer Program and discuss with the students their interest in using a library card. What we came to find was very interesting, almost all of the students were interested in obtaining a library card yet none of them had one. In learning this information we saw an opportunity to assist these English language learners with the process and show them all the things the library has to offer.
We went to Central High school on July 13, 2015 where the EL summer school high school program was being held. The students in this program were participating voluntarily in order to continue their English language acquisition over the summer. We organized a two-day program to inform students about the library. Day one consisted of lessons and information on the library and day two included a field trip to the Manchester City library.
On day one we presented the students with three lessons. Kerry Kubat started the lessons with an intro to the library, she discussed the international symbol for library and activated students prior knowledge by reviewing and teaching necessary vocabulary (circulation desk, librarian, book etc) while also informing them of all the features the library has to offer.
Following Kerry’s lesson plan was Maja Ignjic’s lesson plan on oral communication in the library. She briefly reviewed the vocabulary that Kerry had taught and went on to practice common phrases students might use at the library such as “Hello. Can you please help me find a book on Spain?” This gave students an opportunity to utilize the vocabulary they learned while building their confidence for oral communication.
The third lesson was conducted by Melissa McHugh and really brought the pieces together. Now that the students understood the vocabulary, and had practiced the oral communication skills, Melissa helped them with the process of obtaining a library card. Melissa brought in applications and went through the cards with all of the students. In this process students learned new vocabulary (zip code, address etc.) and were able to fill out the application for becoming a member of the library. Melissa also went over the fundamental rules and the process of receiving a card. Since students who were not over the age of 18 needed parental accompaniment we handed out a letter informing parents of the field trip and providing them with the necessary information to attend if possible. We wanted to make a point of including the parents. We saw a great need to educating families as a whole on the resources provided by the library. Leaving Central High School that day we really felt that the students embraced the process. We were also able to learn about their interests, and this enabled us to gear our field trip towards what the students wanted to see.
That following Thursday we took our field trip to the Manchester library. We met the students at Central High School, and along with teacher chaperones and district translator Jilma Ball, we walked the students to the Manchester library. When we arrived at the library we were greeted by a tour guide, who was waiting to show us all the library had to offer. After the initial review of rules we started the library tour reviewing everything from books, computers, the teen section, DVDs, artwork, audio books, music, the children’s center and museum passes.
After we completed the tour we all headed to explore the foreign language section. Many students expressed interest during the tour to come back to this area. Students explored the books and many of them found books in their native language. They immediately were showing us the books they found and explaining what they were about. Students had so much pride in these books and were excited to find them inside the library. It seemed to bring a sense of comfort having literature in their native languages right here in Manchester.