subject specialist project

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subject poster

LGBTQA Teen Writing Groups

This is a design for a writing group for LGBTQA teenagers to share the projects that may not be deemed acceptable by their teachers at school, their peers, their families, etcetera. A very good way for young writers to grow is to be able to bounce off of each other, and combined with LGBTQA youth being potentially more comfortable “outing” themselves to other LGBTQA youth and adults this is a doubly valuable program.

Resources:

 

  • Terminology to know (a list, courtesy of Eli R. Green and Eric N. Peterson at the LGBT Resource Center at UC Riverside 2003-2004, and another, courtesy of GLAAD).
  • ALA Policies regarding LGBT people: 53.1.15, 53.12, 60.3.
  • Bibliographies and book lists for LGBT people, courtesy of the ALA:
  • Facts about LGBT populations, courtesy of the Williams Institute via the ALA:
    • As of the 2010 census “there are 901,997 same-sex couples living in the United States represented in 99% of U.S. Counties.”
    • Based on results of research by the National Survey of Family growth, “if 4.1% of all adults identify as such, then an estimated 8.8 million adults are gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States. “
    • A personal note: it is possible that these numbers represent only a portion of the population, as the data is a few years old and because not all LGBTQIA people definitively answered the survey or census.
  • The ALA’s Library Bill of Rights.
  • Community Based GLBTQ Youth Support Groups and Safe Schools Coalitions.
  • A Resources page from The Writers Circle of New Jersey.
  • Some personal accounts of teen writers circles: 1, 2, 3.

Sample outline of a day in the program:

  • Greeting/getting comfortable/getting food.
  • Staff educator (librarian or volunteer with expertise in writing) gives a lesson on a writing element (i.e. dialogue, plot development, research, worldbuilding, poetry structure, script formatting).
  • Teens break into small groups and all share the pieces they’ve been working on that week, then nominating one or two members of the group to share with everyone.
  • Group comes back together and nominated students share with everyone; after each work shared there is 5-10 minutes for critique and response.
  • Teens have a chance to share relevant LGBTQIA material they have been interested in, whether it be real world news or the written word.

Concerns:

  • LGBTQIA teens may be more hesitant to share their work, whether or not that pertains to LGBTQIA subjects or not, because they have been told, explicitly or implicitly, that they’re or it’s inappropriate or wrong.
  • LGBTQIA teens may not have read much material that pertains to LGBTQIA subjects and may be unsure of how to express some things.
  • Not all teenagers will have had the same level of education and some may know more about writing fundamentals than others.
  • Not all teenagers will have the same interests in writing: some will be interested in non-fiction, some in fiction, some in poetry, some in screenplays or plays, some in graphic novels, etcetera. All kinds of output should be encouraged and none should be valued above others.

Goals: Providing a safe space for LGBTQIA teens to grow as writers and people, a place for them to have the safety and comfort they may not at school while learning and furthering their creative sides.

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summer reading program

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summer poster

Title: Heroic Representation

Suggested Reading: 

Junior High and Younger

  • Various. (2005-2012). Marvel Adventures (various).
  • McKeever, S., & Landro, V. (2006). Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.  New York: Marvel Comics.

High School

  • Wilson, G. W., Alphona, A., & Amanat., S. (2014-). Ms. Marvel. New York: Marvel Comics.
  • Vaughan, B., & Alphona, A. (2003-). Runaways. New York: Marvel Comics.
  • Bendis, M. B., Bagley, M., & Immonen, S. (2000-2011). Ultimate Spider-Man. New York: Marvel Comics.
  • Giffen, K., Rogers, J., Hamner, C., & Albuquerque, R. (2006-2009). Blue Beetle.

Brief Description: This is a weekly group for tweens and teens in junior high and high school to come, talk about superheroes, read about superheroes, write about superheroes, design their own superheroes, redesign other superheroes, and just generally geek out about superheroes.  Sessions will give teens opportunities to analyze superhero mythos in general and individual superhero stories in specific, offer opportunities for kids to celebrate diverse superheroes and/or create their own, and, in discussion, treat the story formula with literary seriousness and acknowledge its significance but still having a good time.

Program Plan: Six weeks of two-hour sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of the superhero mythos and construct in media.

Week One: A discussion of general superhero mythology and the typical form of superhero stories in mainstream media.  Think of this as the discussion for finding out where everyone stands on the subject: who reads comics, who watches the movies or television shows, who has been to conventions, who’s completely new to this.  The instructor will primarily lead this discussion and steer it as needed.

Week Two: A discussion of popular superheroes in culture.  Students will be encouraged to come ready to discuss their favorite superheroes (and villains, of course) and what about those characters earns them that “favorite” spot.  Be prepared for teens who may not have a favorite superhero, who may have more than one favorite superhero, and who may know what they want out of a superhero but are still looking.

  • A list of current superhero titles featuring diverse (i.e. female, POC, queer, etc.) protagonists will be compiled by teens and instructors during the discussion.
  • A list of things teens want to see in superheroes will also be compiled.

Week Three: A discussion of how to reinterpret superheroes.  Iterations of canonical superheroes, film and television adaptations, and fanworks will all be used as examples of possible reinterpretations, and students will be encouraged to start plotting out their own reinterpretations as they see fit.  Some topics of discussion will include:

  • The Batman and Superman question: why have there been so many iterations of these two characters when countless, more diverse superheroes remain uncommitted to film
  • Racebending for representation: portraying characters who are white in their original comics as POC in screen representations (Agents of SHIELD‘s half-Chinese Daisy Johnson [Chloe Bennet], Supergirl‘s black Jimmy Olsen [Mehcad Brooks], the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s black Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson], etcetera).
  • Female superheroes and the ways their screen counterparts can actually increase their comics popularity.
  • Fans and “shipping,” particularly as it pertains to supporting and lobbying for queer relationships between characters.

Week Four: A discussion of how to create your own superheroes, using royalty-free web information and basic fictional creation theory.  Students will be encouraged to start creating their own superheroes, inspired by what they are interested in.

  • Is their superhero for a comic book or graphic novel?  Or is their superhero for a cinematic medium?
  • What are their superhero’s powers and interests?
  • What are their superhero’s goals?
  • Does their superhero have a support team?
  • Does their superhero have an archnemesis?
  • Does their superhero have an alter ego?

Week Five: A discussion of how to start visualizing your own superheroes, utilizing information from web generators, free web information on drawing people and designing superhero costumes, and advice from a local art instructor.  Most of the session will be given to letting the students create, either digitally or with pen and paper.

Week Six: A sharing session for whatever work students have come up with over the past weeks, student-led.  Teens will be encouraged to keep on creating beyond the program.  They will also be encouraged to come to this session dressed as either their favorite superhero as the one they’ve created, and prizes will be given to each costume (Best Attention to Detail, Best Reimagining, etcetera).

Schedule:

  • 4:00 pm. Greetings, etcetera.
  • 4:10 pm. Discuss the teens’ reading that week.  What have they been interested in?  Can they offer recommendations to each other?  Have they been watching any television programs or films that are part of the superhero genre, and do they want to discuss those as well?
  • 4:45 pm. (approximately). The discussion topic of the week, led by the instructor but with input from the teens as appropriate.
  • 5:45 pm. Begin winding down the discussion.
  • 6:00 pm. Say goodbye for the week, encouraging students to create superheroes and keep viewing them with a critical eye.

Marketing: The focus will be on academic and social youth outreach.

  • Posters in the library and in local junior high and high schools, as well as local bookstores and comic stores.
  • Outreach to English teachers, drama teachers, and staff leaders of theatre, literature, social justice, and LGBTQA clubs.
  • A Facebook event.
  • Marketing on the library website and Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest pages.

Budget:

  • $200 for printing/copying (posters and bookmarks).
  • $200 for creative materials like paper and pens (students can bring their own and contribute as needed).
  • $300 for snacks ($50 per week, with room for students to contribute more as needed).
  • $100 allotted for guest speakers (students can contribute more as needed).
  • Student fundraising as needed for licensed materials, outside speakers, copyrighted materials, etcetera.

Other Considerations:

  • One to two librarians/volunteers should be sufficient to run the program, with the option to engage more volunteers if the program grows in size
  • Drop-in potential, registration ongoing
  • Plan for about 20 kids, with the option of moving to a bigger room if the crowd grows substantially
  • Parental permission slips not required but parental guidance sheets available
  • The meeting room will need to be equipped with either a board or projector to write on
  • Copyrighted material will likely be discussed, and licensing concerns and fees will be dealt with as needed

Program Evaluation: Google surveys will be available and printed surveys will be give.

  • A series of ratings questions (1-5) will be presented.
    • Did the program meet your expectations?
    • Was the instructor helpful?
    • Did you learn things from the program?
    • Did you enjoy the program?
    • Would you recommend this program to a friend?
    • etcetera
  • Open-ended questions will be presented.
    • What was your favorite part of the program?
    • What was your least favorite part of the program?
    • What would you like to add to the program?
    • Is there material you would like to add to the program?  If so, what?
    • How could the program have been more inclusive?
    • etcetera

Goals: To offer and create representation for teens within the superhero genre; to encourage teens to use superhero stories to bolster themselves; to encourage reading in a very casual setting; to encourage creativity from kids and involvement in the future of the superhero genre.

summer bookmark

weekly/monthly program series

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transformative poster

Title: The Power of Transformative Works

Material List:

  • notebook
  • loose paper
  • pencils
  • pens
  • laptop
  • whatever you feel is your preferred medium for writing

Suggested Reading: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Brief Description: This is an ongoing workshop aimed at teaching teenagers (15-18, or, high school aged) about fanworks (mostly fanfiction, but fanart, fanmixes, and other forms of fanworks will be mentioned) as a way to both practice their writing skills and as a way to create and open the door for more representation or options in storytelling.

Program Plan: Eight weeks of two-hour sessions (more weeks will be added according to student interest and librarian availability).  Each session will be devoted to a different aspect of creating fanworks, outlined below.  The instructors will address different topics related to fanworks each week and offer basic writing lessons as needed, as well as giving kids a place to express themselves in a way they otherwise may not be able to.

Topics Include:

  • Character development
  • Exploring relationships between characters
    • Romantic relationships, friendships, etcetera that are not canonical but could be
    • Romantic relationships, friendships, etcetera that are canonical but deserve to be explored further
    • Interpreting a canonical relationship in a non-canonical way (i.e. writing characters who are friends as being in a romantic relationship)
    • Negative relationships and their effect on characters
  • Writing characters in historical alternate universes
    • Classical (Greco-Roman, feudal Japan, etcetera)
    • Medieval/pseudo-medieval fantasy settings
    • Western/Edwardian/Victorian/etcetera
    • Wartime (WWI, WWII, etcetera)
  • Writing characters in other popular types of alternate universes
    • Urban fantasy (such as writing characters into the universes of Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etcetera)
    • Mundane (i.e. no magic, usually modern, “real life” settings)
    • Apocalypse (such as writing characters into the universes of The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, etcetera)
    • High school/university (writing adult characters younger)
  • Representation
    • Genderswapping characters (writing canonically cis men as cis or trans women, writing canonically cis women as cis or trans men, writing cis characters as trans or genderqueer, etcetera)
    • Queering characters (writing characters who are canonically portrayed as or assumed to be heterosexual as falling on the LGBTQIA spectrum and being in relationships accordingly)
    • Raceswapping characters (writing a character who is portrayed white in popular media, like Hermione Granger or Katniss Everdeen, as POC)
    • Writing stories that focus on a character’s either canonical or intuited either physical or mental disability
    • Focusing on “minority” characters from a work who are not the focus of the work but are the focus of one’s fanwork
  • Adapting one medium into another (i.e. writing a story based on a television program, writing a musical based on a book)
  • Canonical adaptations: the good and the bad (discussing the merits of various book-to-screen, screen-to-stage, etcetera adaptations)
  • Canonical fanwork, or: from Jane Eyre to 50 Shades of Gray (discussing works of fiction that began as fanfiction themselves)
  • “My Immortal,” or: The Dreaded Mary Sue (discussing the do’s and don’t’s of original characters in canonically established universes)
  • Multimedia representations
    • Art
    • Digital collages and Pinterest-style inspiration boards
    • Fanmixes (mix tapes compiled to either reflect the character or represent what they might listen to)
    • Original music based on works (i.e. wizard rock)

Schedule:

  • 6:00 pm. Greetings, etcetera.
  • 6:10 pm. Discuss the instructor’s topic(s) for the week.  Instructor can use examples from fanfiction (for example, the week on original characters will include excerpts from “My Immortal,” the infamous Harry Potter fanfic of the same name, as well as viewings of the metafictional webseries based on the same) and students can suggest and share examples as well, either as positives or negatives.  The above pieces of Suggested Reading will be utilized, as will others that the instructor deems appropriate.
  • 7:00 pm. (approximately). Transition into a period for sharing student work.  Sharing will be volunteer-only, with students reading aloud from their work if they choose to (or having their friends read aloud if they do not feel comfortable but want to share).  Constructive criticism will be offered by instructor and students after each reading.
  • 7:50 pm. Begin winding down the discussion.
  • 8:00 pm. Say goodbye for the week, encouraging students to work on integrating the lesson(s) into their work for next time.

Marketing: The focus will be on academic and social youth outreach.

  • Posters in the library and in local high schools.
  • Outreach to English teachers, drama teachers, and staff leaders of theatre, literature, social justice, and LGBTQA clubs.
  • A Facebook event.
  • Marketing on the library website and Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest pages.

Budget:

  • $200 for printing/copying (posters and bookmarks).
  • $200 for snacks.
  • Student fundraising as needed for licensed materials, outside speakers, etcetera.

Other Considerations:

  • One to two librarians/volunteers should be sufficient to run the program
  • Drop-in potential, registration ongoing
  • Plan for about 10 kids, with the option of moving to a bigger room if the crowd grows substantially
  • Parental permission slips not required but parental guidance sheets available
  • The meeting room will need to be equipped with either a board or projector to write on
  • The instructors should be prepared for students to be interested in varied levels of participation and should be committed to providing a safe and private environment for student writers
  • Not every teen is going to have the same level of or type of output every week, and that’s perfectly fine

Program Evaluation: Google surveys will be available and printed surveys will be give.

  • A series of ratings questions (1-5) will be presented.
    • Did the program meet your expectations?
    • Was the instructor helpful?
    • Did you learn things from the program?
    • Would you recommend this program to a friend?
    • etcetera
  • Open-ended questions will be presented.
    • What was your favorite part of the program?
    • What was your least favorite part of the program?
    • What would you like to add to the program?
    • How could the program have been more inclusive?
    • etcetera

Goals: To help teen writers improve and have a chance to collaborate with each other or at the very least share with each other.  The fanwork-oriented nature of the workshops will also give students an opportunity to share theories and practice writing stories that may be considered too “edgy” or “unserious,” etcetera, for traditional school settings.

transformative bookmark

book club/book discussion program

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book club poster

Title: The Wicked Years

Reading List:

  •  Maguire, G. (2008). A Lion Among Men. New York: William Morrow.
  • Maguire, G., & Smith, D. (2011). Out of Oz. New York: William Morrow.
  • Maguire, G., & Maguire, G. (2005). Son of a Witch. New York: ReganBooks.
  • Maguire, G. (1995). Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York: ReganBooks.

Brief Description: This is a book club to be held at the library, where teenagers 13-18 (in their own “wicked years,” according to popular opinion) can come together to discuss Gregory Maguire’s Wicked Years series and use it for a jumping-off point for conversations about life, friendship, sexuality, politics, identity, and whatever else.

Program Plan: Eight weeks of two-hour sessions. The four books will be read one-half per week in sequential order (Wicked the first and second weeks, Son of a Witch the third and fourth, A Lion Among Men the fifth and sixth, Out of Oz the seventh and eighth). The sessions will be held in a room at the library and will be mostly dictated by the kids who attend: while the librarian will lead discussion, the teens will steer it.

Schedule:

  • 6:00 pm. Greetings, etcetera.
  • 6:10 pm. Discuss the reading specifically, summing up what the group thinks are the most interesting points to discuss. (Librarian can bullet-point these on the whiteboard or projector.)
  • 6:30 pm. (approximately). Allow students to shift the discussion as they see fit, based on the discussion points. Allow the discussion to spin as it will. Don’t try to push the students too much, just prompt them and let them say what they need to.
  • 7:50 pm. Begin winding down the discussion.
  • 8:00 pm. Say goodbye for the week, reminding students what needs to be read next.

Marketing: The focus will be on academic and social youth outreach.

  • Posters in the library and in local high schools.
  • Outreach to English teachers, drama teachers, and staff leaders of theatre, literature, social justice, and LGBTQA clubs.
  • A Facebook event.
  • Marketing on the library website and Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest pages.

Budget:

  • $350 for printing/copying (posters and bookmarks).
  • $350 total for snacks.
  • $700 overall.
  • Books will be bought or borrowed by the individual students.

Other Considerations:

  • One to two librarians/volunteers should be sufficient to run the program
  • Drop-in potential, registration ongoing
  • Plan for about 20 kids, with the option of moving to a bigger room if the crowd grows substantially
  • Parental permission slips not required but parental guidance sheets available
  • The meeting room will need to be equipped with either a board or projector to write on

Program Evaluation: Google surveys will be available and printed surveys will be given.

  • A series of ratings questions (1-5) will be presented.
    • Did the program meet your expectations?
    • Was the instructor helpful?
    • Would you recommend this program to a friend?
    • etcetera
  • Open-ended questions will be presented.
    • What was your favorite part of the program?
    • What was your least favorite part of the program?
    • What would you like to add to the program?
    • etcetera

Goals: To create a safe place for young adults to discuss both issues they may not have another outlet to discuss and books they may not have another reason to be engaged with. The Wicked Years series touches on many “mature” themes (intimacy between unlikely partners, social ostracizing and shunning, political powerplays) and because it is a reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz, which most people are familiar with, it can also prompt discussions about adaptations and how there are two sides to every story.

book club bookmark

elevator speech

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As a teen librarian, my goal is to make the library a place that teenagers want to be, and in order to do that it’s my job to provide digital and physical resources that will exceed their expectations: access to the internet and useful software, a collection of books that includes a variety of genres and types of characters, and programs that will hold students’ attention.  The library should be a place that everyone feels comfortable, a place where anyone can come and feel included and respected, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, disability, financial status, level of education, or anything else, and when teens are provided with that kind of supportive environment they can thrive and help create a more inclusive, vibrant future.