This year, my 3rd/4th grade team of teachers decided to change up the way they were teaching technology. Our two classes function independently of each other, but they have been yearning for some joint planning time as well as opportunities for collaboration. From this, our tech rotations were born.
We have two full-time teachers per mixed class of 3rd/4th grade students, with a little over 60 students total. Add me into the mix, and now we have five teachers to teach separate technology rotations. Don’t get me wrong, we use technology in a variety of ways all day long, but these rotations would focus on specific skills – video making, coding, typing practice, Google Slideshows, and library searching. We decided to mix and match the classes, splitting up students by grade level. Each cluster of students (named for our state’s lakes and rivers) would travel together through the five rotations, for five weeks at a time, meeting once a week for 45 minutes per class.
Because this was decided early in the school year, and I had yet to wrap my head around what a “library/technology class” would actually look like, I have been using this time to try out different lessons and styles of teaching. I wish I could say that I have a systematic process of trying out and evaluating my lessons, but right now, I’m just getting a feel for things. My loose theme for the class is library detectives because we are searching for clues to get us to certain resources. We are learning how to navigate the library’s website, how to search the catalog, and how to search our online databases.
As I write this, I am feeling better about my approach to the class (thank you, self-reflection!). My initial fears or worries about teaching these skills were heavy –
- Do I really need to spend time teaching students how to search the catalog?
- How will teaching these skills in isolation help students in any way?
- Can I make this class into a meaningful inquiry project instead of jumping from one skill to another week after week?
That last question still nags at me – if you have ideas, please do share! But I feel better because I know that we are creating meaningful inquiry experiences for students during their science and social studies project time in class. I am still collaborating with teachers during those projects, so essentially, we are building upon the skills that I introduce in this tech rotation. Or at least that’s my justification for now!
That was a long way of introducing last week’s lesson – the Shelfie Challenge! We recently switched over to the Follett Destiny catalog from Alexandria, so I used this *brand new shiny thing!* to get students excited about using the catalog to search for books (many of my students are avid library users, so they already have favorite sections of the library).
Though it felt a little chaotic at the time, kids were excitedly running (eek!) about the library trying to find books – this is good! They were practicing using the catalog, exploring different areas of the library, and searching for books they may not have even known we had (a couple students found books to check out, too).
Since this is my only fixed class in a completely flexible schedule, I am (slowly) embracing the opportunity to teach library skills in isolation to these curious and voracious readers. I still struggle with the philosophical and pedagogical implications of teaching these skills this way, but for now, I’m learning and growing just as my students are.
As I embark on the journey of creating an information skills framework for our Lower School, I would be happy to learn how other schools are approaching this topic! Am I way off base here?