Who doesn’t love a red wagon? I guess I just wanted one for my library, but it became an important collaborative tool. Along with the red wagon, I created a “Red Wagon Request Form” copied on bright red paper. Forms were kept at the circulation desk and near teacher’s mailboxes. The form included a line for teachers to share the unit they were planning and a check list of possible resources they needed including fiction, poetry, informational, but also websites, videos, and “other.” There was also a place to check “I would like to plan a collaborative lesson related to this topic.” This was one, but certainly not the only way, that teachers alerted me to upcoming units of study. For some teachers it was a comfortable and convenient way to initiate collaboration.
The form was often re-purposed by teachers. If a team planned without me, they would collaboratively fill out the form to let me know what they were thinking about. One teacher used the form monthly to re-fill the book baskets in her classroom. The list would include a selection of genres, a balance of reading levels, and often a variety of formats (e.g. magazines or graphic novels). This teacher promoted a community of reading in her classroom and was likely to booktalk and promote the titles that filled the wagon. Classrooms also had an “author of the month” and this would be a reminder to update those selections.
Someone observed that it didn’t matter what they asked for on the form, I always managed to fill the wagon. The red wagon was a vehicle for flooding classrooms with library books and materials, pushing the collection out the door and closer to students, and providing a range of materials related to curriculum goals.
The bright red form could not be overlooked in my mailbox or on my desk. The form got my attention and was generally filled within a day. Completed forms served as one type of documentation for the services provided by the library. The fat file of completed forms provided evidence of the integration of library materials and library services with classroom instruction.
The red wagon always seems to garner attention whenever I share it. Thanks to Amy Sweetapple for her comment on my earlier post. Maybe there will be other red wagons rolling around out there!