Librarians as Vocab Teachers

Following a revelation I had last year regarding serving ELLs and international students at my school comes another, courtesy of my ESL teacher colleagues.  At the beginning of this year, they led a best practices session for faculty in which they emphasized that we all, no matter our disciplines or the language levels of the students we teach, need to be teaching vocabulary. They presented the three tiers of vocabulary development among other resources (mentioned below) and asked for our support in helping all students learn words in the second and third tiers, which become progressively more academic and domain-specific.

As an educator whose lessons can be jargon-heavy and full of words that have meanings specific to the library context (catalog, database, call number, collection) or the research process (authority, operator), this struck a chord. I often explain these terms during the course of an orientation or lesson, but I don’t directly teach them. In the month or so since that in-service day, I have been seeking tools and strategies to help me in my journey toward becoming a library and research process vocabulary teacher.

Maniotes & Cellucci have written in Teacher Librarian about how being a researcher and following an inquiry process leads students to develop domain-specific vocabulary related to an academic discipline or their research topic. However, at the moment I am more focused on the domain-specific vocabulary related to learning to use libraries and do research. I have started my own word bank of Tier 2 and Tier 3 words that appear in my own teaching, are found in places we might take for granted such as NoodleTools and the OPAC, and on guides for international students from academic libraries. I’ve taken a stab at categorizing them as Tier 2 (general academic words) or Tier 3 (library and research specific), tricky since “research words” do cross academic disciplines. Anyway, here’s a sample:

Tier 2:

  • Source
  • Resource
  • Publisher
  • Author
  • Title
  • Subject
  • Original
  • Journal
  • Academic
  • Keyword
  • Topic
  • Process
  • Electronic
  • Purpose
  • Content
  • Copyright

Tier 3:

  • Call number
  • Primary source
  • Scholarly
  • Database
  • Periodical
  • Reference
  • Archive
  • Dissertation
  • Thesis
  • Relevant
  • Collection
  • Accurate
  • Multi-volume
  • Catalog
  • Full text
  • Citation
  • Peer-reviewed

As a new researcher, let alone a new researcher working in their second or third language, these terms are not easily understood or may not make sense out of their previously known context.  Figuring out the appropriate word list for a research unit would depend on the level of the class and the input of the classroom teacher.

My toolbox for direct vocabulary instruction is growing as well.

  • In Vocab Rehab, Marilee Sprenger offers vocabulary instruction techniques that can be used in a class period with limited time. These could be handy during library orientations or one-shot lessons, provided there is opportunity for continued practice and reinforcement.
  • As new words come up, they could be added to a library word wall. Then a few minutes each inquiry session could be dedicated to engaging vocabulary review.
  • The Frayer Model could be used to help students understand the terms represented by the acronymic CRAAP test, for example.
  • Academic Word Finder identifies Tier 2 words for a certain grade level within a text, sometimes with surprising results.

I can’t wait to put some of these ideas to use as the year moves ahead and our ESL classes begin research projects. Building Tier 2 and Tier 3 word lists will be a wonderful opportunity for furthering collaboration with ESL teachers, and will benefit all student researchers too.

Do you do direct library vocabulary instruction? How and when? What words would you add? Any Middle or Upper School librarians with a word wall in the library (who would like to share pictures?)

References

Maniotes, L., & Cellucci, A. (2017). Doubling up: Authentic vocabulary
development through the inquiry process. Teacher Librarian, 44(3), 16-20.
Retrieved from http://teacherlibrarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/
4B-maniotes.pdf

Sprenger, M. (2014). Vocab rehab: How do I teach vocabulary effectively with
limited time? Alexandria, Va.: ASCD.

Further reading:

Bernadowski, C., & Kolencik, P. L. (2010). Research-based reading strategies in
the library for adolescent learners. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Libraries
Unlimited.

Lehman, C. (2012). Energize research reading and writing: Fresh strategies to
spark interest, develop independence, and meet key common core standards,
grades 4-8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Student Achievement Partners. (n.d.). Selecting and using academic vocabulary in
instruction [Guide document]. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from
Achievethecore.org website: https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/
Selecting%20and%20Using%20Academic%20Vocabulary%20in%20Instruction.pdf

What does AISL mean to you? Please share widely!

Happy New Year from the AISL board! After mapping our membership last year, we wanted to share our new year’s resolution with you and ask for your assistance in helping us meet it. If you’re reading this as a subscriber or as a link from AISL media channels, you’re already a member of the Association of Independent School Librarians. You know our value; we thank you for your membership.

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NAIS currently has 1541 member schools. We have 641 members from 390 schools. There are many professional organizations for librarians, but we are the only one that’s entirely focused on k12 independent school education. We would like to spread the word and grow our membership; we are stronger as a profession if we learn from and advocate for each other. As you can see from the map, we have strong representation across the East Coast, with membership extending as far west as Hawaii.

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While this blog and our social media channels are available to all, there are many member benefits. The primary benefit is the listserv, with virtual help available 24 hours a day. We have a burgeoning webinar series with presentations from experts and vendors.  There is an Annual Conference hosted by a team of school librarians each spring, and a Summer Institute, with in-depth study of a topic each June. We are constantly responding to members and offering services members request. In fact, our KARLS (kick ass retired librarians) formed 3 years ago because some retired librarians still wanted to be involved on a personal level even after retiring from the profession. How often do you hear that from other librarians? One founding KARL said:

“AISL is an organization that has members who are extraordinary librarians, dedicated to their students, creative, innovative, and passionate about sharing the joy of learning.  If I could recommend one professional development opportunity to independent school librarians, it would be to join AISL and take advantage of the opportunity to network with these extraordinary librarians. I was delighted when I retired and the opportunity came to help plan a retirement track for those of us who wanted to remain connected to AISL.  I am so happy that I am able to keep looking forward to the annual spring AISL conference to keep learning and see dear friends.”

AISL is run entirely run by a volunteer board. Membership fees are kept low so cost is not a factor inhibiting people from joining. The yearly membership fee is $30, and all memberships renew at the start of the school year in September.  Other common questions:

What if I am currently a library student?

We offer a discounted $15 membership for students earning library degrees. Many jobs are advertised on the site in the spring.

Why should I join this if I’m already part of a regional library group?

Library trends and challenges transcend local geographic boundaries. With AISL, your reach is all across North America, and AISL members are quick to respond to requests for information and advice.

Are your conferences popular?

The conferences are very popular and sell out quickly. Librarians love the tours of independent school libraries and the distinctive character of each conference based on the hosting city. We are working to increase registration slots at future conferences so more members can attend.

Is there a digest option for the listserv?

           There is. You can either receive emails throughout the day or one daily digest.

OTHER QUESTIONS???

Please share this post widely, personalizing with your own AISL experiences. The board is happy to answer questions about membership. We’re looking forward to broadening our community. Let’s do more together!  

With warm wishes for a healthy, happy 2018.

Your AISL Board

Celebrating student choice by giving them the $$$

Last year I wrote and received a grant from my state school library association to allow an eager group of students to select books to purchase for our library. Inspired by David Barrow’s Student Book Budget project, I created a Librarians-In-Training group composed of about a dozen 3rd and 4th grade students. Their task was to survey the student body to gauge reading interests, analyze the results to determine goals for book purchasing, browse book catalogs and meet with vendors to select books to purchase, and finally, make tough budget decisions about what to actually buy. 

By giving students the power to choose, I saw them become thoughtful problem-solvers and decision-makers, focusing on the wants and needs of the many, rather than their own personal desires. This is, after all, their library, and they should take part in the process of selecting books for it. At the end of this project, students were able to see the results of their efforts – books actually purchased for the library. Best of all, students took pride and ownership of the new materials selected for the library.IMG_9720

So, how did we do it? Slowly and methodically!

At our first meeting, I talked to students about my job as librarian – how to select books, what to consider, where to look for books, etc. We discussed our diverse student population and focused on the need to choose books for ALL readers. This led into the sharing of my simplified selection criteria pulled from my Collection Development Policy: community need, quality, appropriateness, and diversity.

We then moved into talking about creating selection goals. What kinds of books should we buy? Well, in order to answer that question, we first needed to find out what kinds of books our Lower School students wanted! I created a simple Google survey for our Librarians-In-Training to fill out and critique.

BookSurvey

They spent the next week helping our student body fill out the survey during lunch recess. They emphasized the fact that we would most likely buy the books and genres that students suggested.

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After the surveys were done, we met back as a group to analyze the results and create selection goals focused on specific genres or types of books. I created charts and graphs to illustrate the survey’s results and let students discuss the findings.

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Time with this group ended and another picked up where we left off a few weeks later. Armed with our selection goals (which later changed to account for my recent purchases), we then explored two sources – Follett Titlewave (and print catalogs) and our local independent bookstore. We were lucky to have our independent bookseller come to us to share a box full of the latest and greatest children’s books (which we pre-selected together earlier in the week, selection goals in mind). Students browsed the books and created yes/no piles for purchase.

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After two weeks of compiling our lists and making sure we stayed on budget, I placed the final orders! Students were buzzing with excitement and couldn’t wait for the books to come in. Our bookstore order arrived first, and students helped process them after I cataloged them. The Follett order came in over a month later, and students were anxious to get these books on the shelf already!

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And this is where we are now. The Follett books just went on the shelf yesterday (!!!), and there is still more work to be done. I would love to have some of my Librarians-In-Training create a promotional video for the new books. I would also like to find a way to track checkouts of these new books, so that at the end of the year, we can analyze our success. But for now, I consider this project a win.

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Embracing Fanfiction

When talking books with a group of seniors before winter break, one of the girls said, “My friends don’t think that I’m a reader, but I actually read all the time! It’s Fanfiction. They don’t think that counts, but it totally does! I read hundreds of pages a week, actually.”

Apparently, I have been living under a rock.

O.k. so maybe not completely under a rock. I have heard tale of certain infamous Twilight Fanfiction that came in various shades of…poorly written mega-bestselling material. But the Fanfic this student was referring to, and that of which her group of friends began passionately extolling on, was not about that  business. It’s an entire world…a world made of fandoms. Have you seen sites like this?

 

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They LOVE IT. In our five minute conversation, I heard about story lines inspired by characters from books, television series, and video games. I heard that some of it is poorly written, some is gratuitous R rated material that they deem me too young and innocent to read :), but according to these girls, some of it is really, really good (and addictive). They’re reading. A lot.  And some of them are contributing their writing. I want to know more. Quite honestly, I want to know about what they’re reading, from comics to the Classics.  If I try their suggestions, I feel like they will be more open to trying mine.

So, what to do?

Acknowledge it.

Discuss it as a community. If this group of five is this into it, who else can contribute to the conversation?

Encourage them to create some of their own?

After reading this School Library Journal  Guest Post by Christopher Shamburg… When the Lit Hits the Fan in Teacher Education, I’ve decided to add a unit on Fanfiction this week in my senior English elective (I blogged about this class last year). However,  I think it’s something that we could all do as librarians. Perhaps an all school program, a collaboration with your English department, a fun activity for your book club, or an after school activity?

Per Shamburg’s recommendation, I’ve done a bit of research into the history of Fanfiction. I can’t wait to talk to my students about Shakespeare in particular. And then there’s Fanfiction of biblical proportions. “Paradise Lost” anyone? This could (and is) an entire course at universities. Lacking a degree in literature, I know that will touch on the proverbial tip of the iceberg, but I think that it will be a fun way to engage with texts in a new way.

I’m looking forward to hearing what influences my students have noticed in works that they have read. I read March by Geraldine Brooks years ago and liked it, yet I didn’t know the word “Fanfiction” then. I just thought, “Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Little Women style”.

march

Think about these Fanfic writing prompts (offered again by Shamburg):

·      Alternate Perspective—the story is told from the point of view of another character. For example, what would the Cinderella story be like if the stepmother told it? (Or maybe the father from Little Women?)

·      Missing Scenes—scenes that are not in the original story, but would make sense in it.

·      Alternate Universe—a major character or event in a story is changed, and a “What If…” scenario ensues.

·      Alternate Realities—characters from one story enter the world of another story.

·      Sequels—the story that happens after the original story.

·      Prequels—the story before the original story.

·      Self Insert—the story is rewritten with an avatar (representation of the author). For example, what would a Harry Potter adventure be like if you were in the story?

(Shamburg, 2008, 2009)

I’m going to ask them to choose one of the above scenarios, to adopt their author’s tone and writing style as much as possible, and to add a Fanfic chapter to their story. I might even ask them to weave together all four books that they read throughout the semester for a final creative writing exercise. How fun would that be ?!

Are any of you members of a Fandom that you’d care to share?

Is anyone doing anything with Fanfiction at school? If so, I would love to hear about it. Please use the comment section to share your ideas with us all!

Passive Collaboration…aka “a foot in the door”

Collaboration is a buzzword these days. I’m all for collaboration. How can you be against collaboration? However, you may be familiar with what I have taken to calling “passive collaboration.” Some of the blog posts over the past few months have dealt with the difficulty of reaching every student. We all have students and teachers who recognize the value of libraries more than others. Teachers have a surefire way to access students and motivate them; I do not. While I’ve had success approaching teachers with my ideas, I’ve had greater success when teachers approach me and tell me the lessons that they are planning. Then I work with them and add in the research and information literacy components that I’ve been dreaming about. I feel like it’s in keeping with the “yes and” rule of improve theater. How can I build on your ideas?

“Oh, you want your entire class to research the biography of William Shakespeare without using Wikipedia?” How interesting. Yes and….while they’re in the library, can we use that time to compare different types of encyclopedias and see how that influences the information included in each entry? Or perhaps we can discuss why we don’t have firm dates for much of Shakespeare’s life and brainstorm the reasons scholars think they know what they do? Or I’ve found that most students have never heard of the “authorship question” regarding Shakespeare’s works, so I would love to hear their reactions to this short video and learn how that changes their understanding of Shakespeare’s legacy. Which sounds best to you, and which dates were you hoping to come to the library by the way? Let’s get you on the calendar!”

I’m a planner by nature—I think most librarians are—so this does not come naturally to me. But I’ve learned that there is a playfulness that comes with this level of adaptability, and it ultimately leads directly to more time with students, my favorite part of the job. One example that jumps to mind from this past semester is when a teacher asked me to come to a middle school Humanities class to hear each student present on a current events article of his or her choosing from the news. There were a few on global health and economics, but most were on immigration and refugees. As we started to compare the information in various newspapers and different countries’ responses to immigration, the teacher invited me (in front of the class) to come back every Monday to continue to analyze immigration reporting in newspapers around the globe. It ended up being a lot of fun, and student feedback last week indicated that they felt they had a much more nuanced understanding of immigration in December than in September. A separate example? When I was asked to help World History students provide feedback to student work from a sister school in Japan, it turned into a multiday lesson on how to write reviews and give feedback electronically, using our own town as an example. The time flew by. And I’ll be working with that teacher again in February on a longer project. A foot in the door….

I’m not saying that librarians should take a backseat to teachers, but I’m living in a world where doing so gives me so many more opportunities to collaborate. Think about the adage, “restrictions breed creativity.” Right now, enjoy the winter break, and when you come back to school, refreshed, in January, make it your resolution to go with the flow and try something new that a teacher presents to you!

How Do You Throw Like a Girl?

This summer our history department chair shared a collaborative document of resources for teaching Social Justice and Multicultural Understanding. I was immediately drawn to the link for Spike Lee’s short documentary, Throw Like a Girl about Mo’Ne Davis. In the summer of 2014, Mo’Ne became the first girl to ever pitch a shutout in the Little League World series. She was the first American girl to play in the Little League World Series since 2004. Even if you never plan to use the film in the classroom, I emphatically encourage everyone to watch the 16 minute profile of this incredibly talented, eloquent, and humble young role model!

Embedded in the document shared by our department chair were resources for utilizing the many links in the classroom. I scoured the internet for other ideas and found the Philadelphia Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League’s unit for teaching about gender stereotypes along with this film.

This idea for a new unit to share with my Fifth Grade students also got me thinking about ways in which I could creatively incorporate the theme of our school’s core values which we were rolling-out for this academic year. The core values are: Be Brave, Authentic, Compassionate, Curious, and Spirited. I had created resource lists of books in our library catalog for our teachers to use that showcase a core value within the theme of each book. And after researching more about Mo’Ne Davis, it was clear that she illustrated each of the core values in all that she has accomplished and embodies. In the film there are many references to Mo’Ne’s attendance at an independent school in Philadelphia, which is a great connection for our girls as well.

We began the unit by drawing pictures of baseball players. You can see from the students work below that not all of them chose to illustrate a male player! We displayed the pictures which were anonymous and then captured the commonalities and differences in our drawn characterizations of the players. This activity helped situate our current understanding and where we had areas to grow our learning.

IMG_0738IMG_0740The Fifth Grade students complete a capstone research project at the end of the year which culminates in a five-minute speech for the Lower School. I am fully integrated in this project, and work with the homeroom teachers to prepare the students for their research. As part of this unit on Mo’Ne Davis I sought to actively incorporate the skills students will use later in the year. To that end, I selected articles from the New York Times, CNN, and Time magazine to read and summarize for the class. Resources used for the Fifth Grade speech process typically include multiple formats and this lesson gave students exposure to the news articles most students would use as a source in their speech project. By sharing my rationale for using news articles to learn more about Mo’Ne Davis, I was thrilled to see the students understand my logic and dive in to the readings!

We discussed vocabulary related to the readings and used throughout the film such as stereotype, gender, discrimination, and role model. Our discussions were spirited and we will conclude the unit by viewing Spike Lee’s film: Throw Like a Girl, along with the video: #Likeagirl. The final step in our learning is to throw a baseball and see if we can “throw like a girl” and approximate this young athlete’s incredible speed and location!

What I Learned from My Sister’s Stroke

Talk about a curveball.  My younger sister  had a stroke about six weeks ago.  She is now “finding the new normal” in a rehabilitation center. She, like many of us, is a high-energy, hard-working, go-the-extra-mile type. In these last six weeks, a few platitudes have been brought sharply into focus, and without sounding too cheesy (as the middle schoolers here would say) here are a few things I will try to incorporate into my library practice.

Don’t be Quick to Judge. Ask Questions. Give the Benefit of the Doubt

When I say “my sister is in rehab” I sometimes get a fleeting “Oh really?!” look.  I usually add “for a stroke” but with or without the qualifier there can be an awkward silence. Do I jump to conclusions with students and colleagues? Do I cut people some slack when I can?

No One is Indispensible (part one)

No matter how important you are (I see the comments from solo librarians and traveling librarians who are wearing a lot of hats these days) life will go on without you. If your heart (or some other organ) is telling you a change needs to be made, start figuring it out before  the decision is somehow made for you.  Ultimately, it is not your problem to make it work for everyone else. Things will go on. You will be missed, but things will go on.

No One is Indispensible (part two): and Shouldn’t Try to Be

Learn how to say no, if you need to. There are lots of books on being more assertive. Be willing to share information with your colleagues and family.  Don’t be the only one who knows how to unjam the copy machine, or where the list of contact phone numbers is kept. You may not have time to leave notes or hand off projects. I will try to remember to share the practical knowledge about this library with my colleagues when I can.

Build up Good Karma When You Can.  You Never Know When You Will Need It!

Ellen’s neighbors, colleagues and friends have been incredible. Truly, jawdroppingly amazing.  One of the reasons for this outpouring is that Ellen and her family made many contributions into the “favor bank” over the years and now they are able to make significant withdrawals without running dry. The give and take is all a part of being collegial, and I will try to look at it as more of a marathon than a sprint.

Best wishes for a summer that rejuvenates you,

Maggie Knapp
MS/US Library
Trinity Valley School
7500 Dutch Branch Rd.
Fort Worth, TX 76132
817-321-0100 x410

 

 

 

 

 

Library & Capstone, like PB&J

The Capstone Project, loosely defined as an independent project, typically completed during junior or senior year, allowing a student to complete an in depth study or exploration of something that is meaningful to them that either isn’t included in the school’s curriculum or that allows exploration at a much deeper level. They research it, reflect on it, and then present their findings to their school community. In short, they are going to become your on campus expert on something. A much better, much longer definition is here. Each school puts their own spin on it: will it be required, opt-in, or by invitation only? Will it culminate in a research paper, a TED-style talk, or something else? Will students be assigned  or will they seek out adult mentors?  Will there be internal mentors, external, or both?  The potential scenarios are enough to make your head spin.

My school is in its second year of a pilot capstone program. We call it the “Signature Program“, as in a culminating educational experience as unique to our students as their own signature. We have approximately 36 students (mostly seniors) participating and they apply, find their own on-campus mentor, and most of them also have off campus mentors. Sometimes we help place them, other times they already know of someone; we are constantly seeking out alumnae who might mentor. We have a program coordinator who also teaches biology here and two co-managers who monitor student blogs; I am one of the two. We also have three other faculty members who serve on our planning committee who offer invaluable insight. Our students blog to reflect on and share their journey. I created a libguide to help them get started. Last year, the library was lucky enough to host the Signature exhibition where each student set up either a poster session or a digital representation of their work and the school community came through to listen and ask questions. This year, we are planning the exhibition around reunion weekend and including sessions by notable alumnae as well, to be distributed throughout campus.

In the next few weeks, I will be working with the students to help them research and develop annotated bibliographies for their topics. I am brainstorming ways to create an internal “Mentor Marketplace” where kids can shop for mentors (alumnae and faculty alike) based on interests/skills that they might not be aware of. A math teacher who’s an avid fly fisher-woman? A science teacher who’s a certified pilot? Awesome!  We can’t be bound by curricular tie-in’s in independent schools; we are working with some very dynamic individuals. I’m always looking for ways to do more for the Signature program. Last week, I attended the excellent (free!) AASL Webinar entitled, “Senior/Capstone Project: The Role of the School Librarian” (archived here for members: AASL eCOLLAB) . Many of you asked me to take good notes as you were unable to attend so here goes! I will share with you what I learned and hope that you will respond with your own thoughts and experiences.

I was surprised to learn in the Webinar that there was an actual library/capstone task force out there investigating things, looking for exemplary programs and activities, who published a formal report, the AASL Senior/Capstone Project Task Force Report. Take a look. Webinar presenters were some of the exemplary program coordinators who were recognized by the task force.

First up: Kay Wejrowski, Swan Valley High School (2013 AASL National Program of the Year). Kay described the themes that her school uses: “Leadership takes many formsand “One person can make a difference. All must answer a few universal questions, “How can I contribute to the world in which I live?” and “What responsibilities do individuals have to our global society?”. Her students do something that is meaningful to them, they “discover their own purpose”. Wejrowski says that the library helps them with each step of the process. They help sort and narrow topics,  help them locate and sometimes purchase a specific “anchor text” for their research. They help the students locate resources outside of the school, identifying potential speakers or local organizations they might partner with. The librarians might edit the student’s research paper, help them locate visual aids for their presentations, or they might host after school work sessions to guarantee that students have adequate time and support to complete their projects. Each student chooses a mentor for their work;  the librarian might be one if asked. My favorite piece of Wejrowski’s talk had to do with librarians capitalizing on their personal relationships with their students to help them find their passion. She said, “the goal is for them to grow academically and as young adults. We [as librarians] talk with them, we get to know who they are and where they are coming from.” In short, knowing our students can help us guide them towards meaningful capstone experiences. I love this.

Brenda Boyer was the next presenter. Side note: this one was my favorite. Brenda is the librarian at Kutztown Area High School in Kutztown, PA. Her presentation was entitled “Raising Rigor Through the Capstone Program” and was recognized by AASL as an award-winning collaborative effort between the school’s library and language arts department. Boyer partnered with two language arts colleagues, fully supported by their administration who secured substitutes for them while they essentially holed up for a week of 8 hour planning sessions. Their goal was to ensure that their students were college ready–that there was uniform information fluency, assessment, and preparation. They really needed that week of planning as their challenges included isolating specific information fluency skills, determining how/when to target these skills, agreeing upon formative and summative assessments, developing rubrics, developing a reflection piece, determining how to “package” content, and developing a process guide. Here’s what they came up with:

An Inquiry Process Guide (Google Doc) where all student work was recorded. They queried faculty to get a feel for “in previous years, students really needed help with ____”, they also spoke with recent graduates about their preparedness for college, and Boyer used her own previous Senior Advanced Research class experience to establish information skill needs. The school is a 1:1 school utilizing Mac Book Pros, so they knew that they wanted to choose platforms that would allow for 24/7 access. They opted to house their project in Moodle. This included all content, instruction, reflection prompts, a glossary of 200 research terms, links to Libguides and actual Libguide content boxes utilizing the API utility. They created a “Virtual Library” using a Libguide loaded with database widgets that they refer to as “Search Apps”. Their goal was to make information accessible in 2 clicks or less. They replicated much of the Moodle instruction within the Libguide as well to make it accessible wherever the student was. The Google drive was then used to house all of the students’ work, the formative evidence, information fluency skills, reflections, rubrics, etc.

The final presentation was given by Michelle Fossum, Research Teacher and Educational Leader, and Lindsay Downs, Research Teacher, of City Charter High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Theirs is unique in that their school has four dedicated “library science certified teachers” who are assigned to a cohort (grade). Each teacher loops with his/her cohort as they advance through the school so their kids get consistent research instruction from the beginning to the end of their high school career. The Capstone is a graduation requirement for each student. Theirs is a year-round school and is divided into trimesters. Each 9th and 10th grader spends a trimester with their research teacher learning the basics. They select their capstone topic as a junior and spend the year doing background research, compiling a 16+ source annotated bibliography, and complete the written component of the project. Senior year is dedicated to completing the action part of the project and presenting their findings to the community. A challenge that they faced was adjusting expectations of rigor as needed for students of differing abilities. They define rigor as being “fully engaged in a personally challenging activity that requires applying knowledge, analyzing information, evaluating situations, and/or creating projects derived from that new understanding.” While interesting, this was the least helpful presentation for me. I am a solo librarian working with students who apply for our program and while subject matter might require some adjustment of expectations of rigor (say, coaching a children’s basketball team vs. writing a novel vs. working with with graduate students at RPI on biomedical research aimed at opening the blood-brain barrier); I simply can not wrap my mind around having four dedicated research teachers to support a program.

Takeaway:

The most helpful/doable pieces that I took from the Webinar are helping students explore topics, select, and perhaps order good ‘anchor texts’, working 1:1 with students to create annotated bibliographies, and utilizing technology to weave information literacy into the project. I am currently working on creating a Schoology page in lieu of Moodle, a Libguide loaded with widgets organized by subject, and I really like the Google doc idea. I could potentially teach a research basics course for sophomores or juniors considering Signature. I’m thinking that I could use a Google doc to meet synchronously with students for virtual reference support. It would be great to answer questions and to record our process for future reference.

If your school is considering a Capstone project, check into the  Capstone Consortium (resources, Summer Summit info, etc.). Our program coordinator attended the Summer Summit last year and did some invaluable networking, not to mention the awesome ideas he brought back for enhancing our program.

Does your school already have a Capstone Program? If so, how does the library support it?

 

 

Making Gucci Changes on a Gap Budget

This was my first year to manage a library budget completely on my own. I had a relatively healthy budget (you can always use more, right? :)) but at the same time, I knew that I had a ton of work to do to bring the library up to speed–new website, databases to add, purchasing EZProxy, Libguides, and oh yes, books! We needed print, eBooks, $1,000 in textbooks to complete the reserve collection, not to mention replacing a scarily amazing VHS collection with DVDs. I was like a first timer on safari, treading through tall grass…looking about wildly with each PO I filed and Visa bill that arrived, just waiting for May to come and some tiger…I mean, some annual renewal fee to jump out and bite me.

I proceeded with caution through Spring Break. May came. I looked around. I’d made it. Better yet, I had money left over. WHAT?!? <insert raise the roof interlude here>

Before the July 1 deadline, I decided to make some high impact physical changes to get my students’ attention, to improve the ambiance and technological usability of the library, and quite honestly,  to attempt to set us apart even more so from other student lounge/study areas around campus to improve marketability.

Here are some before and after shots of my strategy this summer (click on images to zoom in):

beforeafter1a beforeafter2 beforeafter3 beforeafter4 beforeafter5

Since I began last August, I have done an inward cringe each morning when I walked in to see all the mismatched chairs and furniture. It felt like my college apartment, like a garage sale treasure hunt gone horribly, horribly wrong. Thankfully, I had enough budget to swing for new chairs. I went for the super comfy Hon chair with arms that flow down for easy push up to tables of varying heights and seats that flip up like auditorium seats for easy stacking away if/when the library hosts events and needs to be more open. Cost for 33 chairs, 4 bar stools, and unbelievably expensive delivery and installation along with lifetime warranty: $8900.

I ordered 4 bar stool versions of the chairs to be used at our Research bar. I’m hoping to house the student tech support group this year and will give them a desk right behind the research bar. *Note, the research bar is just a high table in the reference section where kids can bring laptops to do work. We’re also adding a customized wall mounted charging station by the research bar so that students can charge while they study. Cost: $400.

How to add power to a 1960’s building without everyone falling over power strip cords? Retrofit existing tables with outlets/ports. I am lucky enough to have an amazingly tech savvy department chair who has a PhD in Civil Engineering…she is going to bring a saw and is going to retrofit the two round tables in the periodical corner with outlets and charging stations. Most facilities departments have an electrical specialist–this person could do this. Each table will have one cord that goes to the wall with a plastic strip covering to avoid trips.  Total cost $850.

Disclaimer: notice that I said “Gap budget” and not “Old Navy”, or better yet, “Goodwill”–how good would that be for the wallet and for the alliteration factor? These projects do add up, but if your space is as dated as mine and if your goal is to add features that aren’t readily available in other study centers around campus, maybe you will consider adding one or two? If you’re lucky enough to have matching furniture, well then good on ya. You’re already on your way to a high impact space that is not only usable, but a highlight of school tours.

What other low cost, high impact, physical changes might you suggest for the rest of us?

Wishing everyone an AMAZING start to your school year! Can’t wait to hear about all the cool things you have planned.

Ending the Year With a Bang

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every library school in the country should require its students to take at least one marketing course. We are all trying to convince our communities of our utility. It’s even more challenging to convince colleagues to work with you when you’re new to a community. I posted earlier this year about my primary strategy in my freshman year, the Information Audit, but I think I found an even greater success at the very…last…moment. Let me share.

With about 3 weeks to go before our final faculty meeting, I learned that I would be given an hour and a half to present on library resources. We were all exhausted. I half-way joked that I didn’t want to be this guy going “Databases? Databases? Anyone?” right there at the end. I knew that this had to go well if I was to start year 2 with positive momentum…the heat was on.

After over-thinking the thing for about 2.5 weeks, I dove in and came up with this:
slideshare id=36481247&doc=dietel2-140630165602-phpapp02

*Note, Uncle Sam is from Troy, NY. I acquired the retired Emma themed Sam this year for the library, my mascot in the first slide. 🙂

If the to-do list beside me is any indication, the presentation was a success. A highlight, I believe, was the research quiz I gave the faculty. I printed out sheets with the questions on them. I prefaced it with something to the effect of, “These are just a few the things that we expect our students to know, but how many of these questions can YOU answer?”. I gave them 10-15 minutes to complete the quiz and then went through the questions and answers. It generated some amazing conversation.

I went to a few key teacher’s Schoology sites (key in that they are doing really cool things with their students, but they didn’t use me at all this year) and grabbed some assignments to create Libguides for. I demoed them as well as my favorite databases that I’d purchased for the school this year, and explained how we can guide students to the best resources via the Libguides. I created a screen cast to demo flipping a library lesson and offered to do this at any time, for teachers to add to their Schoology page for say, advanced search features of a key database or a Web 2.0 tool, etc. I mentioned some success stories and those teachers jumped in unprompted to explain to the group how the assignment changed, how learning was enhanced, by working with me.

I wanted to leave time for departments to meet individually at the end of the meeting to fill out an index card of ideas for working in or with the library, but I ran out of time.

What I ended with was a line of faculty asking questions, placing Libguide requests, and setting appointments to meet before they left campus for the summer to discuss collaboration next year. I also received an invitation from the Dean of Academics to continue the conversation by presenting periodically at faculty meetings next year and to continue to showcase collaborative success stories. Not only will it draw attention to library services, it also highlights innovative teaching throughout the school, something every teacher needs. I love a good win/win situation and I love the library being tied into a morale boosting movement on campus (more on that in a future post).

Starting over has not been easy. I have learned so much about myself this year. A hard truth that I am reluctant to admit is that I am impatient. I want to be there yesterday, wherever there is. In this case, building rapport with new colleagues, streamlining processes, purchasing and then marketing resources, establishing lines of communication…it’s taken a while, but the timing of it seems to be paying off.

Are you already presenting at faculty meetings? If so, what has worked well for you? What are your ideas?