Tag Archives: LIBE467

Assignment Three: Establishing Relevance in the Teacher Resource Reference Section

Illuminating The Resource Section

Evaluation of current conditions

I am actually quite pleased with the current state of reference services for students in the our school library, however the reference services for teachers is another story!  The present condition of the teacher resource reference is not meeting the needs of the current staff, it is underused and rarely accessed.  There is such a mix-mash of resources crammed into one small space in the back corner of the library, housing everything from fabulous to laughable resources.  We have several duplicate resources because staff members and previous teacher-librarians have made purchases without consulting the existing inventory, further illustrating the lack of use.  As it functions right now (or doesn’t!) these resources are rarely used, and most members of staff are unaware of the resources available to them.

Evaluation of Current conditions-6

While personally, and professionally I can see that this section of the library is failing, I found it incredibly interesting to assess them using the Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada resource.  While the areas for evaluating this specific area in the library are limited, I did find that technically we are either considered “acceptable” or “exemplary” which makes me realize the success of this section isn’t determined solely on what exists but more in how it is presented and marketed.

 

 

Evaluation of current conditions-2

If teachers are unaware of the quality resources that exist it means they are not using them, and therefore not putting the lesson plans, and teaching practices to use, which of course affects student learning in a trickle down effect.  Classroom budgets are small and are often not used towards purchasing teacher resources like the ones that are found in our school library.  Many teachers will not go beyond the four walls of their school, or recommendations from trusted colleagues when it comes to professional development references, therefore, if those references aren’t being accessed the effect on students learning must also be questioned.  Teachers need exposure to quality reference resources and collegial dialogue as a means of bettering and reinvigorating one’s teaching practice. Ultimately, if teachers aren’t pursuing lifelong learning their students will suffer.  The current system for housing these materials allows for them to go unnoticed, and become forgotten; we need to illuminate the teacher resources so that staff are more inclined to access them, breathe some life into that section of the library and develop professional development as whole school initiative.  

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Evaluation of current conditions-4

The change will take place gradually over the course of the year by weeding through materials, determining what holes there are in the current stock, and inviting staff members to weigh in on what should stay, go and be purchased.  This is a school wide issue, therefore an invitation will be extended to all staff, however, it will ultimately only involve those who are interested and participating on their own accord.  
Communication will take place formally through verbal updates at staff meetings, and casually in encounters between myself and the staff.  It will also take place nonverbally through presence and exposure of a rotating resource display in the staff room.


Steps:

1 a.) Teacher-Librarian Weeding. As the first step I will pull all of the teacher resources to evaluate them.  Using an abbreviated and adapted version of Riedling’s evaluation criteria I will tag resources based on three categories: Yes, No, Maybe.

Content Scope

 

1 b.) Collaborative Weeding. I will personally invite at least one trusted teacher from each team to join you in the weeding process so that there is representation from each grade, while also offering a general invitation to all members of staff who are interested in being a part of the process.  This will provide a starting point for professional conversations around the learning materials.  For this event I will provide drinks, snacks and make it a fun after-school activity that depending on the depth of conversations could be a weekly event for several weeks.  

2 a.) Illuminating the Quality Resources in the Building through Direct Communication with Staff.

Highlight  2-3 resources at each staff meeting that are worthy of mention.  Once resources start to actually be used ask the staff members to give a quick review thumbs up/down why?  etc. at staff meetings, so that multiple voices are speaking on the resources in our building.

Check in with staff, what would they like to see in the resource section?  What resources could support their teaching?  Find out what is happening in the classrooms and make suggestions for resources that could positively influence the learning within those lessons.


2 b.) Illuminating the Quality Resources in the Building through Indirect Communication with Staff.   Create a display showcasing teacher resources based on themes that will be on rotation in the staff room.   Include a sign out sheet so staff can remove resources, but be accountable for them.  Check in with teachers after use about their thoughts, and ask them to share a two-minute review with staff at the next staff meeting.

 

Evaluation of current conditions-5

The follow-up for this plan will be to check in with teachers for feedback about the changes.  The success will be determined by the use of the resources:  Are people using the resources? Has circulation increased in this area?  Are professional conversations happening around the school?  

Give summary of findings in last staff meeting/ get together of the year and ask for feedback and request direction for following school year.

 

 

 

References

Asselin, M. (2003). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian School Library Association.
Riedling, A. (2005).  Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips (2nd ed.).  Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Books.

Theme Three – In House and Digital Reference Resources

 

Theme one_SErving the clientele-2

Can you say information overload?! Wowie! I am once again feeling a bit overwhelmed with the role of being a teacher-librarian!  I am trying to remind myself that there will be a learning curve, and eventually this will be second nature, and thinking back to this moment will be funny, at least I am hoping.

Theme Three included an abundance of information on a variety of reference materials found both in house and online.   While I felt familiar with many of the items discussed on some level (even if just surface level), there was also a lot to take in.  I really appreciated the sharing of online resources that were throughout this theme, not only did they provide context for the information provided, but I can see sharing many of them with my students.

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1.) When it comes to utilizing, or selecting resources of any kind critical thinking is a major prerequisite!  As researchers, and educators we constantly need to be evaluating the information we receive and reevaluating as time goes on.  Once a resource has been deemed appropriate for one’s school use it is the TL’s job to continue to ask questions: Why am I using or recommending this resource?  How does it meet the needs of the students who will be using it?  What are the biases?  How will it help students reach their learning outcomes? Just because something passes the test in September, doesn’t mean a year later it will still hold the same value, and therefore we need to constantly be engaged with the materials and looking at them objectively to determine if they still command the respect and honour of holding a place in our learning commons.

2.) Maybe Wikipedia isn’t so bad!  If students have the skills to perform research and discern between quality resources and ones which lack credibility then Wikipedia shouldn’t threaten the learning process.  I love Chris Harris’ point in the article Can We Make Peace with Wikipedia,

“To be quite frank, continually bad-mouthing Wikipedia to the very people who use it—successfully—makes us look a bit daft.”

Harris is absolutely right, we need to get with the times instead of fearing the worst, if we educate our students then maybe we can help them avoid the very things we hold against Wikipedia.

3.) Starting at square one has never been more clear.  There should be an entire unit of lessons devoted to completing research before the research process even begins!  So often we as teachers put the cart before the bull and set students off on research without giving them the fundamental tools to actually perform that research.    I often do an introduction to researching that is about 2-3 lessons, but in reality I’m not sure that is really enough.  Students depend on their skills to use Google, however to truly understand how to research a specific topic effectively that will not be enough.   Being familiar with middle school teachers I feel so often we assume students have been taught some of these foundational skills, and in most cases they haven’t.  We can’t always depend on last year’s teacher to have done the work, and therefore we must structure the appropriate amount of time into fully preparing our students in the research process, after all these skills will be ones they use for a long time to come.

Did you know that Google has actually worked along side Google Certified Teachers, and their Search Engine team to develop  lessons to help teachers teach the skills of utilizing Google in their search engines for the best results?  I just stumbled across this in my journey to find a better starting point and boy am I glad I did!  Click the picture below to explore their lessons now, or copy and past the link at the bottom of the page.

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Questions

Something I still feel a bit conflicted about is whether digital encyclopedias and databases trump hard copy ones?  Students prefer online access, information is updated more frequently, and can be accessed by multiple users at once, from multiple locations.  However, what would the loss of presence do to the rest of the hard copy resources?

Google Search Education.  Basic Search Education Lesson Plans – Google Web Search Education. Retrieved August 19, 2015.

Harris, C. (2007, June 1). Can We Make Peace with Wikipedia? Retrieved August 19, 2015.

Theme One: Serving the Clientele

Theme one_SErving the clientele

After completing theme one (heck, after completing lesson one!) I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed at the extensive job description and expected wealth of knowledge that a Teacher-Librarian is expected to have.    Of course I know that the job of a Teacher-Librarian isn’t  just circulation and story time, but after going through the readings and weekly lessons I can’t help but wonder how long it will take before a new TL really feels that they have a good handle on knowing their “products” and supporting the clientele?  Perhaps some of this struggle stems from the fact that I have only TTOC’d in the library, and not actually had a library/learning commons to call my own.  This lack of experience certainly makes the hefty job description sound next to impossible to achieve, experience always helps to calm those nerves.   Whether or not it is reality or just the  interpretation of reality the job is complex and the better acquainted a TL is with their space, and the resources and tools within the better they will be at supporting the staff and students in the building.

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Here are a few of my  takeaways from theme one:

1.) Know your stuff!! –  As a librarian it is critical that one knows the resources available (both print and electronic), and also knows where are the resources found for quick and efficient referrals.

Perhaps more complicated than just knowing about the resources is also knowing which  resource to select that will meet the individual needs of the student searching.  Quality of resource is important, but so is knowing the individual’s learning style and which resource will best support their search based on how they learn.

2.) Support learners in the research process.  Beyond providing resources for use it is also important that TLs assist their students in their information seeking skills whether that is through conversation, questioning or providing a graphic organizer such as BCTLA’s The Research Quest’s Student Guide

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Something that felt poignant, and therefore stayed with me when reading Riedling’s discussion of “The Reference Process” on page five of Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips, 2nd Edition was her thoughts on approaching every situation open to possibilities:

%22As fixed as this process may appear,

“As fixed as this process may appear, school library media specialists must keep in mind that each question is unique; therefore, each process will be unique as well.”

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BC Teacher Librarian’s Association. (2001). Research Quest Student Guide. Retrieved July 23, 2015.
Riedling, A. (2005).  Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips (2nd ed.).  Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Books.