Module 4: Learning Log 3

22 Oct

It is strange to think we’ve reached the end of SLM 509!  Though 8 weeks seems short on paper, it seems like a whirlwind with all that we’ve accomplished in class through the assigned readings, discussion boards, the intensive group project, and our final collaborative project.  One thing I’ll admit now is that at the start of class I did not like the Fontichiaro textbook.  The articles seemed dry and a bit repetitive.  But, by module 2, with the Inquiry focus, I grew to love the readings. Now, by Module 4, I’m sharing them with my colleagues.  The English department got a laugh out of the cave – man notes article, but determined it would be a great analogy to help students take notes from reference and non – fiction sources.

I decided to look back at my first Learning Log for the course.  To paraphrase, I said I wanted to learn more about “true collaboration” and to better incorporate the AASL standards into my teaching.  I think we were all surprised when we read the about the differences in levels of collaboration.  I don’t think I was alone in thinking that what we now know of as “cooperation” and “coordination” were a far cry from “true collaboration”.  After collaborating with my peers in class for the in service, and (trying my hardest) to collaborate with my colleagues at school for the final project, I have determined that true collaboration is an art and a science.  Teachers and librarians must think creatively, take the multiple intelligences and learning/ teaching styles of themselves and their students into account, co – teach, and co -assess.  The process seems daunting, but with time and practice, will yield worthwhile results for learners.

I do feel better equipped to incorporate AASL standards into my teaching.  At the end of September, I joined a new school committee on 21st century learning.  One of my colleagues asked if there were standards that addressed 21st century learning and I was able to speak on how the AASL standards could be used in any content/ grade level to address information fluency, collaboration, questioning skills, and higher order thinking.  Staff members who were not familiar with the AASL standards seemed interested in knowing more!  I feel like introducing other content teachers to the AASL standards can tie our class material together, encouraging students to make connections between what they are learning in all of their classes.

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Module 4 Learning Log 2: Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

16 Oct

Throughout this course, we have read a lot of articles addressing the importance of questioning.  Most of the articles dealt with teachers constructing the questions as a way to generate discussion/ creative results (Joyce Valenza’s article For The Best Answers Ask Tough Questions and Teaching Students to Form Effective Questions by Tish Stafford jump out to me as key articles here) or ways to use questioning to guide students through the inquiry process (Leslie Preddy’s articles on pages 130 – 139 in Fontichiaro stick out to me here).  One thing I have always struggled with as a teacher is not coming up with questions for my students, but finding ways for my students to come up with their own (relevant! higher – level!) questions.

Recently, the following article, Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions was emailed to me.  What a revelation! The article shows how two diverse schools, using the same Question Formulation Technique (QFT) were able to get their students more involved with their own learning.  Those using the technique found that students were more likely to take charge of the answers to the questions because they had formulated the questions on their own.

The article goes though a 6 step process teachers should use when working with their students to formulate questions.  Steps 1 and 2 are to have students come up with as many questions as possible (based on a teacher provided prompt) and write them ALL down.  Steps 3 and 4 are to have students evaluate and prioritize their questions based on teacher instruction/ focus.  In step 5 the teacher and students decide the best ways to use the questions to guide class discussion or projects.  Finally, in Step 6 students reflect on how their questions guided the learning process.

I think the QFT technique would work in any grade or content level and could be employed without a lot of stress on the part of the teacher (teachers have so much on their plate, to ask them to change their techniques/ style abruptly is challenging).  I think this article is worth sharing with other teachers and librarians!

Module 4 Learning Log 1: Teaching in the 21st Century

15 Oct

Diana Laufenberg’s TED video How to Learn?  From Mistakes is inspiring and challenging.  I had viewed the video before, from the mindset of a teacher.  I found Laufenberg’s message and class activities invigorating, thinking “this is EXACTLY what I want to do in my classroom” but struggling to reconcile what I am supposed to “cover” in a school year, with the challenge of having multiple preps, over 100 students, etc.  I know other teachers face the same challenge, but for some reason it takes too much brainpower for me to really employ some of the strategies and projects I want to do with my students.

This time, I watched the video from the mindset of a school library media specialist.  One thing that struck me was her message that students don’t need to come to school to get information, information is at their fingertips 24/ 7.  Though she doesn’t say it outright, what I think Diana is getting at by the end of her talk is that students need to come to school to learn information fluency (Fontichiaro, 167).  In other words, students can access all of the information in the world, but they will need guidance in analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing information.  I think Laufenbergy would approve of the AASL standards which ask students to find an evaluate information, address real world issues, collaborate with others, and create their own unique products.

From the mindset of a librarian, I also see how I could reconcile the stress I feel with changing some of my teaching strategies to a more 21st century style: Collaborate with my colleagues and the LMS!  I thought back to the short PPT we looked a in module one that described teacher styles in the library.  By paring with a teacher that has a different style than me, I could learn many more creative ideas or strategies to make complex and real – world style projects seem more “do – able” and by collaborating with the LMS I could find tools and an instructional partner to help me to carry out these strategies.

As a future LMS, I want to inspire teachers to teach like Laufenberg.  I will need to be ready with tools to help them, and a can – do attitude about trying new things and not being afraid to fail or have students fail in the process of learning.

Module 3, Learning Log 3: Multiple Intelligences

5 Oct

I found the Edutopia clip Multiple Intelligences Thrive in Smartville really inspiring!  I was impressed that very young children were self – determining the ways that they are smart.  Teaching students to metacognate about how they learn best will build their self – efficacy and self esteem when they are faced with a new task.  The students in the video could clearly learn independently.  Though the teacher gave them the task (which is necessary at such a young age) the video makes it seem like the students catch on quickly, and could complete the task without a lot of adult supervision/ guidance.  Another student mentioned that she liked learning real world skill and having adult responsibilities at school.  For such young students, I thought their level of Independence was amazing.
The message of the video is that capitalizing on student’s multiple intelligences creates a stronger community of learners.  One of the school administrators noted that her school shouldn’t look as “good” as what it does on paper because their population includes diverse and struggling families.  Yet, when students are given a chance to learn in a way that suits them best, high test scores are an inevitable result.
The challenge for teachers and librarians when teaching students with multiple intelligences to to break out of the barriers of their own intelligences.  We are no different than our students; we know which ways we learn best and tend to stick with them.  However, and I know I am at fault here too, we tend to teach in the way that we learn.  I tend to be visual, literary, interpersonal and interpersonal and I know my lessons end up coming off this way.  This is fine for students just like me, but others will miss out.  As teachers and librarians we should be seeking out strategies that help us fill in the gaps of our intelligences so we can reach a broader population.  Also, stretching ourselves as teachers and librarians will enrich us as well too.  We may find out about hidden strengths or creative ideas that we would not have conjectured before!

Module 3: Learning Log 2

2 Oct

Practice what you preach.  This age old adage has been one I’ve tried to uphold.  While doing the collaborative in-service project with my awesome group members, Christine and Lisa, I realized this adage has never been more true.  We have been told by our supervisors to incorporate more technology and 21st century learning tools into our lessons.  We have been taught how to use these tools in SLM 508.  We’ve used tools like Google Docs and Skype for personal reasons, but not necessarily for long distance collaboration.

Well, in the last 48 hours, I’ve used Skype and Google Docs/ Drawings in ways that I had not before.  Our team started off incredibly confused and disconnected but using these web tools that we “preach” we were able to collaborate, get organized, and create an inservice.  Granted, we are still working on the final details, but it was amazing to watch the presentation take shape even though we didn’t actually meet.

Based on my experiences with Skpye and Google Docs in this module, I would be more likely to use them in the future for collaboration.

Learning Log 1 Module 3

2 Oct

Reading the first sentence of the assigned Fontichiaro articles made me simultaneously laugh and cringe.  On more than one occasion I have guiltily thought, ‘When I am a librarian it will be the best of both worlds: working with students and not grading ANYTHING!”  But, as I continued to read the preview to the articles, I realized I was thinking about assessment in an incredibly narrow way.  Though they often go together, assessment and grading don’t always have to mean the same thing.  The “Getting to Advocacy” section describes how a librarian should seek to collaborate with teachers to assess students, which might be the most fair for all students.  If we truly want to assess both the process and the product, as well as prepare students for the “real world” assessing them on their information literacy fluency (Stripling in Fontichiaro, 166) may be the most relevant way to assess all students.

Another striking feature of the Fontichiaro readings was the emphasis on student self – assessment.  Often (though not purposefully), I don’t allow my students many opportunities to assess their own work.  These readings reminded me that self – assessment can be the most powerful form of assessment.  First, many students tend to get “test anxiety” when they know they will be assessed.  Having students assess themselves often makes assessment a natural part of the learning process.  And when the formal assessment from a teacher, or a summative assessment is assigned, the student will know what areas he or she will have to study or seek extra help on, because they will have already evaluated their progress with the topic or project.  Next, teaching students to self assess requires that they develop learning strategies that work for their learning style.  A focus of this week’s discussion boards is differentiation and learning styles.  Pappas notes on page 174 that students can chose brainstorming and process organizers that work for them.  Having students chose the organizer gives them more ownership over their work and encourages them to organize and summarize information on their own.  Then, they can assess if the organizer they chose was the best for the task.  The research reflections, journaling prompts, and exit slips on pages 176 – 177 also seem really helpful in getting students to address their own learning styles and learning needs.

A final thought I had after reading through the Fontichiaro articles is that if we really want students to advocate for their own learning and self assess we must offer them more choice over their educations.  Obviously core skills should still be addressed K – 12, but offering students more electives or self – directed classes could increase student advocacy and the desire to self assess because they would be studying something they were truly interested in and would want to address how their skill/ content knowledge has grown for that topic.

Module 2: Learning Log 3

25 Sep

One of our assignments this module was to do two library observations.  Since my teaching schedule would allow me to see a HS lesson during my prep, and a ES lesson at the end of the day(the ES is right “next door” no real chance to see MS unless I got a sub) this is what I did.  I knew what to expect from the HS lesson.  I know our librarian, I know the English teacher who brought her class in, and once the class started filing in, I realized I knew most of the students.  Going to the ES and viewing a Kindergarten class was a “culture shock”!  Here are some things that stuck out to me most

– The excitement and pure joy of the students.  Granted, there are times our HS students are really excited about the things they do in school.  I always enjoy doing simulations and debates with my students because they get into it.  But, HS kids are still worried about looking cool in front of their peers.  They will not exclaim out how happy they are about the book they’ve signed out of the library or giggle out loud listening to a read – aloud.  (Not that many HS teachers do read alouds..).  These Kindergarten kids have a zest and joy for learning every minute while our HS kids seem a little tired out and pressured into continuing to learn.

– The powerlessness teachers and librarians feel operating under a fixed schedule.  Whereas I can walk into the library during my prep or lunch and find our librarian or the library aid, an elementary teacher doesn’t really have the same opportunity.  Even if the librarian or aid is with a class I can most likely pull her away for a second because the classroom teacher is also there with her students.  In the case of the elementary school, the librarian would be on her own with the students because library time in the teacher’s prep.  After speaking to the ES librarian, I know she wants to do more collaboration, but she and the ES teachers feel so pressed for time.  On the class discussion boards, I noticed many of the ES teachers and librarians discussing the limitations of a fixed schedule.  I read the posts, but didn’t really understand them.  Now, I have a lot more sympathy for ES librarians and teachers who are on fixed schedules.

– Though I haven’t observed any MS classes, now I know I defiantly feel more comfortable in a HS library.  When I took Children’s Lit, and really enjoyed it, I thought I might have a chance in an ES library.  Now, I realize I’d be really out of my league.  I feel that I have a fairly decent understanding of the HS curriculum at my school (and if I switched schools, would be able to apply what I know about my curriculum to the new one) and I understand the mental/ developmental/ social abilities of HS students.  I feel like I’d have to spend a lot of time shadowing teachers/ students in an ES to feel comfortable as their librarian.