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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.


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.


Module 2: Learning Log 2

18 Sep

One of our assignments in Module 2 was to read a few chapters from the Fontichiaro text.  One set of articles I found incredibly to be incredibly helpful was a series by author Leslie Preddy on “Student Inquiry in the Research Process” (Fontichiaro pages 130 – 145).

A project that I love to assign (and in the end, students love doing) is an oral history (OH) project.  They pick a time period or event and then chose a friend or family member to interview that lived through the time period or event.  Next, students compare their family member/ friend to the historical record of the time period.  I’ve found students like to find out the “dirt” on their family members and as a teacher, it is so enjoyable reading papers that students clearly have a personal connection to.  While reading the Preddy chapters, I came up with a lot of great ideas to make the project better this year.

1) Have students keep a notebook/ journal of the OH project.  From the brainstorming phase (what topic or time period am I most interested in?  What questions should I ask my interview subject”) through the interview and reflection phase (how did my interview subject experience the time period?  Are they similar to other Americans during this time?  What do their experiences tell us about American identity?”) students have LOTS of papers floating about.  Purposeful organization would beneficial to them and me.

2) Model AND practice the interview process.  In the past, I have had another teacher come in and I mock interviewed her to give the students a look at the types of questions that would elicit the best results.  However, I should go a step further and allow the students to mock interview her (or a different teacher) as well.  Perhaps the interviewed teacher could give feedback to the students on how she thought the interview went.

3) Grade the process and the product.  Believe it or not, I have had students plagiarize their OH.  In one case, I had students make up responses that they thought a person may have had during the time period (I caught them because the responses sounded too generic) and in a second case, a student from a previous year allowed a current student to use a few of their body paragraphs (I caught them because the OH’s are very unique).  Perhaps other students slipped through.  By grading the process, students will be accountable for every step of the project

4) Allow students to chose their formatting.  In the past, the OH has always been a paper.  But for students who tape their interviews, creating a video would be a lot more powerful.  Other students could put together a visual with scanned images or photos from the time period of artifacts that their subject owns.  Allowing them to pick the format would give students more ownership over the final result.

Module 2: Learning Log 1

18 Sep

Another slow start for Module 2.  I don’t want to appear apathetic about this class!  I feel very torn by responsibilities at work, home, with friends (best friend from high school’s wedding this weekend, traveling involved) and a topic that really does interest me like collaboration in schools, specifically for inquiry based learning (which I want to feel more comfortable doing in my own classroom) for no other reason than to avoid the type of classroom environment in this popular SNL sketch.  (If you’ve never seen Jerry Seinfeld as a history teacher and David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley as his students, it is worth watching!)

In the beginning of the module, I read the article “For the Best Answers, Ask Tough Questions” by high school librarian and visionary Joyce Valenza.  Valenza encourages teachers to ask “fat” questions that require students to think critically, evaluate sources, and synthesize information rather than “skinny” questions that just require students to memorize facts.  At the end of the article, Valenza listed numerous websites teachers could use to develop their questioning/ inquiry skills with their students.  I wanted to take a look at a few, but found that many of the links no longer worked or the sites were out of date because the article had been written about 10 years ago.

So, I looked around to see if I could find some new sites that relate to the info/ methods in Valenza’s article:

Asking Good Questions” by Kenneth Vogler show how questions can be styled to fit the traditional and revised Blooms taxonomies.  He also explains 6 questioning “sequences” like “broad to narrow” or “narrow to broad” “relevant digressions” “circular path” etc. that could work with all grade levels and subject areas.

Concept to Classroom” offers teachers a step by step guide to implementing inquiry based learning in their classrooms, while offering corresponding theory to go along with the inquiry based approach.  One of the ideas I thought was most interesting is “while knowledge is constantly increasing, so is the boundary of the unknown.” I think older students would understand and appreciate this ever increasing area of knowledge and view it as a reason to inquire on their own.

Project Based Learning: Real World Issues Motivate Students” is an article by Diane Curtis for Edutopia.  Curtis offers a rationale for challenging students at a young age. She notes that benefits of PBL include higher levels of student engagement, higher test scores, and a greater appreciation for how their educations “fit in” with real world issues.  Three videos from different subjects/ grade levels are included.

Reading Valenza’s article and viewing these sites has made me think critically about the questions I ask my students.  As a future SLMS who hopes to collaborate with teachers, knowing questioning/ inquiry skills will be the foundation to building relevant projects for students as well as purposeful use of the library’s resources.


Module 1: Learning Log Final Post

11 Sep

As Module 1 winds down, I have a feeling that the next 6 weeks will be hectic.  Online classes tend to be more time consuming, but also require you to work harder because you MUST participate in everything.  One of the discussion board posts said it best; to paraphrase, in an online class you can talk as long as you’d like to think, post on the discussion boards, and finish assignment, whereas in a traditional class, sometimes the conversation moves too quickly, and even those who might want to add to it are left behind.  I think the first module set the stage for enriching posts and dynamic posts on the discussion boards.  I was really happy to be a part of it!

This module was all about setting the stage for instructional collaboration.  From comparing the Unquiet Librarian videos to the Fontichiaro text it became very clear that what one might consider to be “true collaboration” is very hard to achieve.  Buffy Hamilton of Unquiet Librarian is considered one of the best in the field, and I loved listening to the lessons she and teachers in her district collaborated on.  As a student in one of the classes, I am certain I would have gleaned a lot from each of the lessons.  From the comments on the discussion board about the videos, it seemed like nearly everyone viewed them as “cooperation” not “collaboration” but that could be okay, as long as student needs were being met.  Also, I think that as a project grows and develops, the teacher and the librarian become attuned to new ways to collaborate and plan together. As a teacher, when I start thinking about projects, they don’t really work out in my mind or on paper the first time.  When I try them with a “guinea pig class” I also pick up new tricks or tools that could make a project better.  Sometimes, I think a teacher and librarian must try an (imperfect) project first before finding ways to teach and assess it together as it best fits the needs of the students.

Another way this module set the stage for collaboration was the blog review deliverable.  Blogging is a great way to find new tricks and tools, as well as set up a strong net presence.  Blogging would allow librarians to communicate with others in their field (because at school, sometimes the librarian is an island, there is only ONE of her).  Blogging would allow newer librarians to learn from veterans, and experienced librarians to see fresh ideas.  Blogging and tweeting allows librarians to form global communities, which I see as a form of collaboration.

The hardest part of this module for me was the discussion board post about redesigning an existing lesson plan to better fit AASL and NETS standards.  I really appreciate AASL and NETS standards.  I think they are written in clear, easy to apply language, and if sought by librarians and teachers, push us to try new things and challenge our students.  However, when it came time to mix them with state/ national subject area standards, I just didn’t feel like I could get what I was thinking down on paper concisely and sensibly.  I felt like I needed little paper cut outs to manipulate, like this video from the assignment prep on Blackboard.  I am not a very good multi -tasker, and my brain felt like it was performing gymnastics!  I still plan on becoming more comfortable with the AASL and NETS standards, but now I’d also like to think about more ways to apply them to subject area standards, especially outside of Social Studies, where I am most comfortable.

Module 1: Learning Log 2

4 Sep

Prior to doing any of the other readings or assignments for the module, I read through the Fontichiaro text readings.  One reading that struck a cord with me was Betty Marcoux’s “Levels of Collaboration: Where Does Your Work Fit In?” Marcoux created a continuum for teacher, librarian and student use of the library from consumption (students “consume” library resources like reading books, creating photocopies, and typing with no help/ insight/ response from teachers or the librarian) to collaboration (teachers and the librarian jointly plan, implement, and assess the lesson).

I think most of the time that I use the library as a teacher I fit in the cooperation –> coordination stage.  I ready my students for the library with background information and the assignment at hand.  I alert the librarian in advance and discuss some of the outcomes I’d like to see and we work together to come up with research methods and materials.  Usually, she will present these materials to my classes and work with them in using the materials.  I don’t think I’ve ever shared in the assessment of my students with my school’s librarian.

One of our discussion board questions was to evaluate three lessons where school library great Buffy Hamilton collaborated with teachers.  After viewing each of the videos, I had the same inkling as many of my classmates.  First, true collaboration (as described by Marcoux) is really challenging, even for prominent school librarians.  Second, varying degrees of collaboration among teachers and the librarian may be beneficial, depending on the class, the project, and time constraints.

Module 1 Learning Log 1

3 Sep

I feel as if I’ve been really slow in starting this class.  The first week of school has been so hectic, that I haven’t had time to settle down and catch up with my classmates who are burning up the discussion boards with comments!  Better get to it!  Of course I am excited to read Joyce Valenza’s article.  She was my high school librarian!  (Though, in high school I don’t think any of us realized how famous she was in the library/ information community)

I am incredibly interested in the possibilities that this course suggests.  As a teacher, I love working with my colleagues, sharing ideas, solving problems, and trying make our student’s educations worth their time and effort.  But, I know in the past, I have been one of those teachers who thinks up a project on her own and signs up for a time slot in the library without consulting our media specialist.  When this happens, my thought process is usually something like, “I’ve done this project before, I know I don’t need any help” or “Kayse (our media specialist) is so busy (working in two different buildings in our district) I don’t want to burden her with anything else.”  I know this is the wrong attitude to have and that I must be more purposeful about true collaboration (not just cooperation and coordination) (Fontichiaro, 238).  If I really want that project to be good, I should be taking advantage of all of the library’s resources, including Kayse because I KNOW she wants to help out the teachers and students in the building in any way possible.  I also really like the idea of students seeing collaboration between professionals.  It shows that the groupwork/ partnerwork we encourage in class is part of the real world.

In this class, I also want to develop a greater familiarity with the NETS and AASL standards.  I’d like them to become like a second nature, so that when I’m designing lessons for my history classes, I am incorporating NETS and AASL.