Going Wild in Wisconsin

Today I joined friend and colleague Amy Koester in presenting a webinar exploring Unprogramming during Wisconsin's two day state-wide CE extravaganza, the Wild Wisconsin Winter Web conference. Organizer Jamie Matczak brought in speakers from around the country (well, and from Belgium!) to explore cutting edge issues and ideas.

Amy and I have been spending alot of time over the last year or two loosening up and streamlining our program planning with school-agers (both in elementary and middle school). By incorporating unprogramming concepts (celebrating books, giving kids agency to explore through discussion and hands-on discovery), we have been able to decrease excessive program preparation and planning.

Here is the simple recipe we use to guide our efforts:

I can't praise this approach highly enough. For me, it has been freeing. I look forward to presenting programs because I am comfortable in the content and the kids' engagement. Because of our increasingly networked work world, I can easily find interesting information on books, authors and subjects. Creating fun activities is as close as a blog, Pinterest pin or publisher's site.

Kids love the approach. We give them the power to explore and they respond happily. I love the chatting and conversations, problem solving and exploration that results from their participation. It enriches the program far more than having me as a talking head.

As a manager, I can see the savings - in time, because preparation is less intense and time consuming; in staff, since fewer staff need to be involved in a program; in money, because many supplies and materials can be re-purposed and in stress, because the programs invite kids to provide the vehicle for their own discovery.

For people attending the webinar, here are links to specific programs I discussed: Space, Dr. Who, Library Camp-out.  Please stop by Amy's blog, The Show Me Librarian, for additional links and information from today's webinar!

From a Conversation Starter at ALA (a tag team seven- post series at our blogs starts at this post to continued dialogue at this webinar, unprogramming is always a great chat!


  1. This was a wonderful webinar and I got lots of great ideas; but more importantly it was the understanding behind the philosphy that I appreciated hearing more about today. I had an immediate, take-away, light bulb moment that I can incorporate into my school age program for next month. My planning for it was taking an unfortunate turn toward boring, but by changing it up a bit I can create "exploration stations" like you and Amy spoke about. That will be WAY more fun for the kids, add the literacy/learning component that was missing, and make my prep work easier also!! I so get this philosphy now, can see it working, can envision much less stress and frustration for myself, and can 'see' the kids having a ball!
    Thank you, thank you!!

  2. Yes!!!! Unprogramming is so much fun. Thanks for your support!