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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!

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 1: Using Tools for Collaboration

3 Sep

A tool that I have only recently started to use from Joyce Valenza’s “Fully Loaded” is Google Forms.  Google Forms makes it incredibly easy to create surveys that are accessed and tabulated online.  One of the best features of Google Forms is the results can be viewed in an Excel – like list or as a series of charts and graphs.  If you wanted to show the results of a survey as a presentation, the charts and graphs would be great for an audience to view.

Google Forms would be a really efficient way to communicate with stakeholders because the forms can be made relatively quickly, and filled out at the participant’s convenience.  The graphs and charts would be great visuals to interpret with the group of stakeholders once all of the results are tabulated.

I think Google Forms might best be used by a librarian in the preliminary and reflective stages of a project.  Here are some ideas:

– For teachers: Forms that ask about teacher’s readiness to use the technology already in the school.  The librarian could then meet with like groups of teachers to and present tools/ ideas that meet each staff member where they are.  Then, a follow up form could be sent out later to see if teachers feel that their readiness levels have changed.  A librarian could also poll teachers about types of projects they would like to try with their students to amass resources/ ideas to prepare for these projects.

For students: Forms about favorite genres, authors, periodicals, even library seating arrangements would show students that the library is really about their needs as learners and readers. A form could be made for students when they finish a project using library resources about what worked well for them and what didn’t.

For parents/ administrators: Forms could be made about what parents/ administrators expect  from  school librarian.  The librarian could then present how she is meeting those needs and know other areas where needs may be unmet.  Librarians could also show the results of student and teacher forms to parents and administrators as a way to illustrate aspects of her program.

Hello world!

28 Aug

Here comes a busy semester, APUSH, APEH, U.S.II, SLM 509, SLM 501, and trying to stay sane!!