Hybrid Library Instruction

We’re still a few weeks away from the start of classes here in Massachusetts, but I feel like the fall has been looming over since, well, last spring. We saw a sharp decline in our research instruction once we went remote last spring, and I’ve been thinking about how to make sure that didn’t happen again this fall, knowing that we were likely to be at least partially remote again.

We are going back with a hybrid schedule, with half of our students on campus on any given day. A class of students will, essentially, be split in two with half the students in the classroom with the teacher, and half at home each day. While there will be times when students Zoom in on their learn from home days, there will likely be a fair amount of asynchronous instruction happening. Those learn from home days seemed like a good opportunity to do some research instruction, and to collaborate with teachers.

I’ve never done much with flipped instruction, as we often had very few opportunities to get into the classroom with students as it was, and I wanted to make the most of those opportunities so we could build relationships and do some guided practice. However, it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to be in many classrooms this fall, and I won’t be able to lean over a student’s shoulder to help them the way I usually would. I wanted to do something that would help us connect better than Zooming into classes from our office. Also, being able to offer something to teachers as a way to do meaningful instruction with students who were learning from home will (hopefully) be a good way to rebuild some of those collaborative partnerships that suffered in the spring. 

I’ve been thinking about how to offer a “menu” of instructional possibilities to teachers for a while, and this seemed like the right time to put that idea onto paper (or GoogleSlides, as it were). My goal is to more clearly communicate to teachers what types of instruction we can do, as well as what sorts of applied practice students could do. It’s important to me that we communicate to teachers that research instruction is dynamic; a database demo doesn’t help anyone learn research skills unless they have a chance to practice and get feedback on what they’ve learned. It also means they’re doing something more than watching a video at home. 

This slideshow gives a broad overview of what types of skill instruction we do (I’m working on a one-pager that I was planning on having finished by now, but, well, here we are) along with some ideas for how students can practice those skills. The content will be delivered via video (which means students can review it at any time), and the opportunities for applied practice will be tailored to the assignment. 

The key to this for me is the last slide, which gives some possibilities for how students can get feedback. We can “visit” classes as we’ve traditionally done to answer questions and check for understanding. Or students can schedule a ten-minute “check-in” with one of us to share their work and get feedback; we’ve had great success with longer research appointments, and I like the idea of adding this option for students and teachers. Or, depending on the task, we can ask students to create a screencast of their work/process, explaining what they’re doing and why. This last option allows for some metacognition and reflection, as well as an opportunity for us to catch misunderstandings. All of these options will give us an opportunity to connect with and build relationships with students, something I’m very conscious of as I think about a socially distanced library. 

I’m still putting final touches on much of this (you all are getting a sneak peek) and I’ll be rolling it out to teachers soon. I’m optimistic that it will help start conversations with teachers about how they can incorporate research instruction, as well as make for meaningful instructional partnerships in what is sure to be a very interesting school year. 

5 thoughts on “Hybrid Library Instruction

  1. This is awesome. And it’s a menu that can be used all the time, not just for “flipped” situations. I serve PK-8th grades, though the Covid protocols this year will have me visiting only 4th/5th grade classes face-to-face. I love the menu idea to inform the other teachers what I can offer them.

    • Yes! I’ve been meaning to do something like this for a while, but since I could often rely on conversations at the lunch table or in the hallway to share possibilities, it always fell to the bottom of the list. Since I can’t rely on those anymore, it got moved way up the list!

  2. What great ideas, Sara! Your slideshow is awesome, and I love the idea of video check-ins and sharing student progress.
    I, too, have been struggling with how to make sure I am connecting with as many students as possible. Add to that, our other (elementary) librarian retired this past spring, and there is a freeze on re-hiring her position–so the challenges of trying to cover Nursery-12th as one person are a bit daunting! A combination of recorded lessons and synchronous drop-in appointments sounds great; I am going to brainstorm how that could look at our school.
    Would love an update about the check-in appointments after you implement them; I am wondering how limiting it to 10 minutes will play out, and if you have to make any adjustments. Wishing you the best with this great plan!

    • Nursery through 12th is a lot! I’m in awe of anyone who can work with that age range.
      I will definitely share more about how things go. I settled on 10 minutes as a starting point; we’ll see if/how I need to adjust that.

  3. Sara, this is awesome! I love how you have been working this out all summer long and then acted on it. I doubly appreciate you sharing it with the listserv and our collective brain. Have a fantastic day.

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