We are currently in the middle of switching from Follett Destiny to AccessIt, so my brain is a mess of to-dos about data to check and settings to update and things that I need to make sure work before students leave (our seniors only have a week left!). So, here are some short and sweet things that have worked well for me this semester. The first is very practical, and the last two deal with how we help students relate to and understand the research process. I hope you’ll find these useful, and if you’ve had any small successes this year, please share them in the comments!
Zip Ties are the Secret to Successful Charging Stations
I wanted to create a charging station for students – partly because I knew it would be useful and partly because I was tired of students unplugging my things in order to plug in their own. I bought a cute little wooden device storage thing and all the necessary cords for laptops and smart phones, set it up, and within 2 days both of the iPhone chargers had walked away (Android users are not so immoral as to steal the charger, it seems). Despite many pleas, the cord never walked back. So I bought a new, completely wire stand, a few new cords, and a giant pack of zip ties. Now all the cords are not only labeled but also zip-tied to the station. It’s been a few months and nothing has walked off. It’s not as pretty as my original idea, but I’ll take the functionality any day. I still have a few laptop chargers students can check out, but students also know they can leave the laptop to charge when they go to lunch.
Working Knowledge & The Great British Bake-Off
I talked in my last post about using the 1 minute test to see if students had a working knowledge of a topic before we move on to deeper searching. I still use that, but I’ve realized that students need an example of what working knowledge is and why it’s important. So I’m comparing it to the Technical Challenge on Great British Bake-Off. In order to complete a technical challenge for, say, cookies, the bakers have to know at least the basic steps and ingredients for baking cookies – they need a working knowledge of cookie baking. This working knowledge doesn’t mean they are experts in cookies, but they can at least pull from their basic knowledge in order to move forward. Research is a technical challenge – you have to know some basics before you can start putting pieces together to search.
Databases are Your Friend Who Only Posts Memes
We’ve all been dealing with the concept of container collapse and our AISL colleagues have shared lots of useful activities to help students understand containers, so this is just one more to add to the list. As much as I talk about it, my students (and even a few teachers) still have trouble seeing databases as aggregators and not creators of information. So like much of my instruction in recent years , I found myself pulling from social media to create an example again (subject headings are the OG hashtags, anyone?). Databases are that friend of yours that never posts anything original on their social media and only shares memes. Your friend didn’t even create the memes – they just found them somewhere else and posted them because they wanted others to see them too. Databases are not influencers – they are not content creators who come up with the new TikTok trend. All they do is share it when it comes along, and they just happen to be sharing things from newspapers, magazines, journals, books, and encyclopedias.