Tag Archives: library

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.

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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.

 

 

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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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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.

 

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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.
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Theme Two: Managing Reference Materials

Theme one_SErving the clientele I am feeling a little less overwhelmed after completing the second theme.  Not because the job description is any less intimidating, in fact there are probably more bits and pieces to consider now!  However, it feels a bit more humanly possible to try to achieve the goals of being a good teacher-librarian.   So often in university courses, text-books and “how-to” manuals we are left feeling a sense of rigidity that doesn’t allow for or factor in the human element.  I felt relief in this theme with the acknowledgement of how being a relatable human being with skills to communicate can and will influence how the success (or failure) of a learning commons.   Thanks for Subscribing!   1.) Give credit for what you bring as an individual to the role.  One of the resounding messages that kept popping up, especially in Riedling’s Reference Skills chapter nine, was the role that the T-L’s personality plays in creating a successful learning commons.  So often this stereotype of the introverted, quiet and meek librarian is perpetuated, even though I never felt that this was some sort of common goal or characteristic in reality there was  a sense of validation I felt upon reading  Riedling’s acknowledgment of what an individual’s unique set of skills and  personality can bring to a learning commons experience.

 “Both tangible and intangible skills combine to create purposeful and interesting communications between the school library media specialist and the student, and hopefully, a successful reference interview.” – Riedling pg. 102

2.) Finding Balance.  Another strong takeaway I took from this theme is how crucial balance is to a learning commons.  Not only does balance play a role in the budget, but it also applies to the distribution of resource selections; being mindful of balance in all its forms is imperative to the success of a learning commons in a multitude of ways. I can only imagine each T-L’s individual struggle when comparing the purchase of hard copy or digital reference resources.  After looking over an example of what a hard copy set of encyclopedias cost, compared with an annual digital subscription my initial feeling is to go with digital.  It almost seems foolish to invest in the hard copy resources at those prices when it is merely a matter of time (the clock starts ticking the second that order has been placed) that it becomes outdated and in need of replacing.  Having said that, I can completely argue the other side saying it is not foolish to invest in print copies of resource materials.  It is important that we have a balance of various types of resources for students to engage with and from which they will learn.  So, how do T-Ls decide the allocation of funds and feel good about their decision?  I guess it goes back to some of the thoughts outlined in module six, we need to be PICKY when selecting resources, and get as many different inputs as possible from the people who will be utilizing them.  I have seen many great resources go unnoticed in a library because teachers didn’t know they existed, and neither did the T-L!  In fact, at one school the staff bought a selection of resources without realizing it already existed in the library, no one had checked!  I guess that goes back to one of the takeaways from theme one: Know your stuff!

Here is some follow up food for thought on the growing trend of moving from hard copy to digital:

Paperless Public Libraries Switch to Digital by Bill Hicks for the BBC.

References

Hicks, B. (2013). Paperless Public Libraries Switch to Digital.  Accessed August 22, 2015.
Riedling, A. (2005).  Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips (2nd ed.).  Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Books.

Middle Years Inquiry Planning Guide

This is a document I would like to share with Middle Years teachers to help guide, support and inspire their efforts to create an inquiry based project.  Sometimes we are lost and we don’t know where to begin, other times we may have an idea of where we want to go but need a bit of inspiration for ways to get there, wherever you are coming here are a few places that can help you get where you are trying to go.  No one is expecting you to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes finding quality resources or information can be arduous with little show for the time you’ve put in.

I have broken down the guide into four curations:

  1. A starting point for planning.
  2. Activities/Lessons for students to teach key skills involved in the research aspect.
  3. A sampling of quality resources for student during research.
  4. Presentation – a selection of presentation tools for students to show what they have learned.

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So, you want to start an inquiry, or research project with your students but are unsure of where to start?  In this curation I have selected both resources that offer specific information about inquiry projects, as well as general teacher resources from quality sites created for supporting teacher planning and student learning.  I invite you to explore all of the sites to some degree, and narrow done the ones that will best aid you in your planning process.  Click here to begin.

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In this section I have curated a grouping of lessons and activities that can help teach students the skills they will need to be successful in their researching.  Ideally these lessons are taught before students are independently performing research, as it will help to guide their process.  Here you will find lessons and teacher supports to aid in the teaching of fundamental areas such as: avoiding plagiarism, learning how to cite sources, establishing credibility of websites, how to search, how to critically evaluate information, etc.

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By the time you are ready to use this next curation you will have a plan in place, and your students will be ready to start their independent research process.  In this curation you will find quality websites that you can pass along to your students to aid them in their research.  The websites in this section are geared towards students, the formats are easy to navigate, and the topics/information available is suited towards many learning outcomes of middle school curriculum.  In my experience, students appreciate this list as it gives them a bit of confidence as they begin their research and the daunting task of discriminating their sources to find the answers for which they are searching.  The list can be found here.

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Here I have curated a selection of presentation and tech tools as options for students to use to showcase their learning.  You may want all students to use the same format, or perhaps a selection of ones you’ve identified.  These are all tried, true, and teacher recommended options.  I would encourage you to spend a bit of time checking them all out to some degree, and playing around with the tools so you have an idea of which ones will be the best option in your specific project.  Note: while many of these are web-based, there is also a link to iPad app suggestions.  Our school does have iPads available, if there is a particular app you are interested in that we do not have please come see me as we may be able to purchase.

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In this section I will utilize some of the tech tools found that can be found in the presentation curation above as a medium to not only inform, but also expose you to some of the options highlighted for student use.  For example, all of the graphic posters you have seen thus far have all been created for free using Canva (found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

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This resource was created in efforts to support the staff at the school I teach, however, it would be nice if it could also serve the global community in some sense as well.

While this is a tech tool, it is not meant to eliminate the person from the process.  I am here to assist you throughout your journey.  This resource will hopefully provide you with focus and a plan, once you have those in place I can personalize the support I provide to you and your students.  I would also like to reinforce that this is a collaborative document, if I have left out tools, or websites that you (or your students) feel are worthy of sharing please let me know and I can add them to our shared document.

How can I support you?
Watch this clip I made on Powtoon to help you understand ways I may be of service to you and your students. (Powtoon’s website can found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

Outcomes: 

When planned and executed in a mindful way that is specific to your group of learners,  inquiry projects are incredibly successful as they allow students to individualize their inquiry and process, which supports a bigger buy-in and in turn a more meaningful learning experience.

Students will learn about the process of researching a topic and how both print and online sources can support one’s search.

Students will gain competency with technology tools, how to effectively use the internet for specific searching and how to discern between a good/bad source.

While the plan is in place, we want students to get from A to B, the journey of how they get there is not prescribed.  This approach meets the needs of diverse learners as the students will work with tools that appeal to them, and find content that is meaningful to their process.  Students can personalize their learning by the ways they approach their research and how they choose to present their information.  Students who require a more regimented and assisted approach can be provided a short list of resources, such as the ones provided above, but with a more direct route to the information they are seeking.  Since technology will be used ELL learners will have direct access to online translators as they perform their research.  Software is available on the computers for students who require assistance in reading the material, or scribing their thoughts as they go along.  The technology available is limitless, and therefore virtually any learning obstacle can be managed to assist students in their inquiry research.

This is an online tool, so the information is accessible anywhere there is internet and a device ready for use, which means students can continue their learning at home, in the classroom with the portable computer lab, or with their own devices on our wi-fi network (when permission has been granted).

Cross-curricular and integrative opportunities: Primarily this project meets prescribed learning outcomes for Language Arts and Technology across the middle and high school levels, and as many research based projects are routed in Social Studies or Science topics will be easy for your inquiry projects to meet the prescribed learning outcomes for multiple subjects.

Multiple Literacies addressed in this project are bolded in the list below, and explained in the Padlet image below. ( A link to Padlet can be found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

 Digital Is outlines the various forms of literacies as:

  “Digital Literacy Cognitive skills that are used in executing tasks in digital environments

   Computer Literacy Ability to use a computer and software

   Media Literacy Ability to think critically about different types of media

    Information Literacy– Ability to evaluate, locate, identify, and effectively use info

    Technology Literacy– The ability to use technology effectively in several different ways

    Political Literacy– Knowledge and skills needed to actively participate in political matters

    Cultural Literacy– The knowledge of one’s own culture

    Multicultural Literacy- The knowledge and appreciation of other cultures

     Visual Literacy The ability to critically read images”

 For a closer, more interactive look click here.

If you have any further questions, or would like to add to the any of the curations above please feel free to contact me in person or online.

Let’s get started on something great in the Learning Commons today!

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Library Vision Completion and Farewells

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Click the picture above to be taken to the Shop Talk section of the blog.

This course has given me a lot of time to reflect and dig deep into the things that have really helped me in my career thus far, and through that understanding I have recognized the need to foster and to help create more opportunities for those events to occur so that they hold a place of permanence rather than merely happening by chance.  This journey is what brought my vision project Shop Talk To life.  It is kind of ironic how you have to take a journey that takes you down many different paths to fully see what was in front of your eyes the whole time, but if not for this journey and exploration I am not sure I would have fully been able to appreciate my newfound, old knowledge in the same way! The idea of Shop Talk emerged out of my experiences before this course, however the real articulation and creation can mostly be attributed to the experiences I have gained through completing coursework and engaging in online conversation with my 477b crew.

This course has helped me think about how to craft an engaging blog that is both artistically and mentally stimulating, and through this process I have had the pleasure of learning through new platforms, and making virtual connections with classmates who have offered not only support but inspiration.

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The overall journey was challenging, and personal and so much more meaningful than I ever expected from an online course.  I honestly feel that the connections we have built in this class are ones that will go beyond these four months together.  No, we likely won’t be meeting for dinner dates, but I know if I had a question or wondered about a new technology tool I could email some of the people from this course, or our instructor, without hesitation and be able to pick up where we left off.  In fact, I really hope that my classmates’ blogs are maintained so I can continue to learn from them in their personal journeys.

There have been roadblocks with using technology, and things I wish I could have done (if only I had more time, more skills, etc. etc. etc.) but alas, there comes a time where you just have to be proud of the challenges you have overcome.  While I wish I had the means of creating the 30 second summary video as an example for this Shop Talk, I did not, and I must move on and be happy that my ideas are articulated, and out there for the world to see.

Finishing this final post for 477b is a little bittersweet, on one hand I am thrilled to have completed the course, and astounded by the amount I have learned, and on the other hand I am sad that it is over and there are no other options for learning in this format.  I am not sure I can return to another regular online course knowing that this is how it should be shaped.  Such is life.

It has been a blast; thank you to the Bears crew for sharing your experiences with me, and for offering insight and kind words for me in my journey.

Thank you to Aaron Mueller for creating a course that will forever top all others.  You are truly an amazing teacher, I hope I have the opportunity to learn from you again.

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If you’re like me and you like hearing heartwarming stories of good teachers, check out this link, and enjoy the rest of your day!

A bientôt