Diversity and Diverse Learners in the Library Learning Commons

Viewable on Canva here.

References found here.

Considerations for Makerspaces in Library Learning Commons

My musing around establishing a makerspace in an elementary school library.

Teacher-Librarianship Web Tools Toolkit

Grad yourself a copy using the link below.

http://bit.ly/3vUMG4n

LIBE 467 Assignment 3 – Reference Collection Evaluation Plan

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LIBE 467 – Course Reflection

In this blog post, I reflect on finishing my latest teacher-librarianship course, LIBE 467 Information Services.  Finishing this course has not been without challenges, most notably the COVID19 virus that has quickly spread around the world affecting hundreds of thousands of people.  Finding the motivation to sit down and complete the last few requirements of the course was difficult since I felt like my time would be best utilized supporting my family, friends, and community during this difficult time.  If that wasn’t already enough, I have been navigating my own health challenges over Spring Break and coping with the anxiety of not knowing what my job will look like when I return next week, so I’m pleased to be writing this final post.  Before I start my reflection though, I’d like to take a moment to thank all healthcare professionals and essential service personnel for their outstanding commitment and bravery during these unprecedented times.

In spite of all these challenges, I decided to reflect on some of the main themes of the course and discuss how they have impacted my current practice, as well as my plans for the future.     

The Foundation of Reference Services

This section of the course started with understanding what constitutes as a ‘reference’ item followed by a review of basic student information literacy skills and discussions on how reference collections and services can support the development of these skills.  I now understand that reference materials are divided into two main sections:

  1. “Compilations that furnish information directly (encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, handbooks, yearbooks, biographical sources, directories, atlases)” (Riedling, 2013)
  2. “Compilations that refer to other sources containing information, merely indicating places in which information can be found (bibliographies and indexes)” (Riedling, 2013)

If one of the primary goals of the teacher-librarian is to assist students in the use of the library and its collections, then I look forward to refining the way I interact with students using the Reference Interview process.  I understand that the process is really a conversation that identifies and supports students’ research needs.  I feel the more I experience I have, the quicker and more effective my answers and suggestions will be.

 “Reference Interview Process” by Christopher Lister is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Managing and Evaluating Reference Services

This section of the course discussed the skills, processes, and strategies required to effectively select, evaluate and manage a reference collection.  I enjoyed this section the most because it afforded me the opportunity to assess my school library’s reference section and make some concrete plans for the future.  As a new teacher-librarian, my introduction to the role has been a series of steep learning curves, so up until recently, I had not had the chance to take an objective look at every reference item in both print and digital form.  After I did find the time, I determined which print reference items to replace and discovered many under-utilized items in our digital reference collection. In order to evaluate my library’s collection, I used Riedling’s framework as a guide.

“Reference Selection and Evaluation” by Christopher Lister is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

The Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada document 2014 also proved helpful in determining where my current practice lies and where I would like it to go.  I believe my school library is in the Exploring phase.  There are several members of staff, myself included, and administration who feel like we should be in the Emerging phase, but for now are making progress in the right direction.

“Transitional growth of a Library Learning Commons:” by Christopher Lister is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 / A derivative from the original work

Overall

Standards like the ones found in (Riedling, 2013) and (Canadian School Libraries, 2018) offer suggestions for types of reference material that should be included in a school library.  It’s helpful because I’m new to my role, but the standards are also extremely high and out of the reach of most schools in British Columbia. Riedling suggests keeping an adequately stocked print reference section, one that is refreshed every five years or so, but this is unrealistic.  Consortiums like BCERAC, however, make digital materials a cost-effective alternative.  With access to a wide variety of encyclopedias, atlases, biographies and databases included in BC Digital Classroom they meet the reference needs of most students at an affordable price point.  

References

Canadian Library Association (CLA). 2014. Leading Learning:  Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada. Available:  http://llsop.canadianschoollibraries.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/llsop.pdf

Riedling, A. M., Shake, L., & Houston, C. (2013). Reference skills for the school librarian: tools and tips.
XL 103 Calgary. (2020, March 24). Let’s start the day with some gratitude! – Heather and Buzz [Graphic]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/xl103/posts/3084715111559604

LIBE 467 Assignment 2: Behaviour Change – An Exercise in Opportunity and Risk

“Often the biggest barrier to innovation is
our own way of thinking.” – George Couros

For the purpose of this assignment, I will discuss two fictitious teachers who work in the same elementary school and their effective use of reference resources in their pedagogical practices.  Using the Concerns-based Adoption Model (Figure 1) to evaluate the success of new programs and techniques, as well as SAMR model ( Figure 2) of technology integration, I will compare the two teachers in their approach to change.    



Teacher 1 – Emerging

Background

Emerging has just started their first full-time position in a grade 4 classroom.  They have been a certified teacher for a couple of years, but mostly in the role of a Teacher Teaching On Call (TTOC).  Emerging wants to engage students in resource-based learning activities but finds the experience chaotic and difficult to clearly identify when learning occurs with her students.  Emerging is working on developing stronger classroom management skills as their students have a difficult time demonstrating the necessary self-regulated learning skills required for personalized learning and inquiry activities.   The helpful and supportive teacher-librarian in their school suggested using the SAMR framework for technology integration and a document called Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada to assist in developing their students’ information literacy skills.  Emerging is starting to take pieces of information from both sources and applying them to their practice.  As the information is new and their pedagogical practice in the early stage of development the resources feel overwhelming and it’s difficult to see results.  Emerging uses some forms of technology in their classroom including visuals and videos but is reluctant to extend the use of technology to her students. Emerging is worried that her lack of framework and experience around technology usage may lead her students to become distracted and resulting in wasted time.  Emerging’s students lack basic information literacy skills and typically use print resources from the library and photocopied learning resources from textbooks. When researching online, students use laptops to access Wikipedia and Google searches. Students in Emerging’s class tend to demonstrate their learning in a variety of written and oral formats including posters, skits, and speeches.

Evaluation

With respect to technology integration using the SMAR model, Emerging is at the substitution level.  Emerging is using online technologies as a direct replacement for offline techniques. For example, instead of documenting research on paper students are documenting research online.  In terms of using the library reference materials and services using the CBMA model, Emerging is at the ‘Personal’ level and at the ‘Information’ level in terms of innovation. They are focusing on their own needs and asking themselves questions like, How does this new approach work?

Direction

In order to move Emerging’s practice forward in the area of technology integration, they could consider using technology to transform the learning experience. Instead of using a word processor to individually create content, Emerging could work to create a more collaborative classroom environment and encourage students to write in a collaborative manner on the same document using Google Docs or Microsoft 360.  This would represent a shift wards modification in the SAMR model. In terms of the CBMA model, Emerging would benefit from developing a mentor relationship with someone in their school or school district. They would also benefit from partnering with the teacher-librarian and engaging in team-teaming activities around information literacy.

Teacher 2 – Established 

Background

Established has been an elementary school teacher for 15 years.  They have worked in a variety of schools in the same district and usually teach upper intermediate aged students.  They have a passion for student-led learning experiences and are currently enjoying the rich discussions, inspiring guest speakers, and cognitive dissonance that their Master in Education is Resource-Based Learning provides them.  They consider themself a lifelong learner but feel they need to create more play-based and student-centered learning experiences for their students. Established is active on social media and believes that it is important to develop a strong personalized learning network.  They share their educational successes and setbacks regularly and understand that learning is personal, non-linear, and involves deep explorations (Couros, 2014). Established likes to use theoretical frameworks and sound pedagogical models to anchor their lesson design, lesson planning, and learning experiences with students but they don’t always have the skills to achieve their goals.  They have a strong collaborative relationship with their school’s teacher-librarian and think it’s important to help develop and strengthen students’ information literacy skills. When researching online, students are encouraged to use the school’s online databases rather than general Google searches for their reference needs. Students in Established’s class use a variety of print and digital media and are exposed to some student-led learning experiences.  When asking students to create artifacts of learning she encourages students to combine audio, video, and text into their presentations. Some students remarked that it’s sometimes a little chaotic in the classroom and there is too much freedom.

Evaluation

Established is transforming their practice, and in terms of technology integration on the SAMR model is in the ‘modification’ zone.  For example, when working on presentations Established has moved beyond the realm of a poster or a simple slideshow with text into the realm of multimedia content.  In terms of using the resources and services from the library to facilitate learning, Established is in the collaboration phase heading towards refocusing on the CBMA model.

Direction

Established is in an excellent position to embrace and move their teaching practice forward. Already in the phase of ‘modification’ with respect to SAMR, it would not take much effort to continue the transformation by using technology for the creation of new tasks not previously possible.  For example, when studying content presented by the teacher, Established considers making connections-based learning partnerships instead, or Established may consider directing students towards a more interactive presentation like Nearpod.  In terms of the CBMA model, Established could take on a leadership role in their school around the process of change – a change champion among the rest of the staff and a mentor to those in the earlier stages of concerns and levels of use of innovation.      


Conclusion

“Change is a highly personal experience, involving developmental growth in feelings (the Stages of Concern) and skills (the Levels of Use)” (The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM), 2008) that often requires a catalyst to ignite momentum.  These catalysts can materialize at any moment and from unexpected sources. It requires opportunity and a little risk to embrace and tackle unfamiliar tasks. Those in the process of change need a foundation of support on which to build upon.  Mentors, virtual networks, and pedagogical frameworks such as SAMR and CBAM and help during these transitional phases in an educator’s life. Teacher-librarians can help support teachers in their school by utilizing these models to “improved student achievement through the refining of instruction for essential literacy, research and inquiry and communication skills” (CLA, 2014).

References

Bringing Engagement and Joy to Every Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2020, from https://nearpod.com/

Canadian Library Association (CLA). 2014. Leading Learning:  Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada. Available:  http://llsop.canadianschoollibraries.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/llsop.pdf

Couros, G. (2014, December 27). Retrieved from https://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/4974

LaurieElishPipe. (2015, December 6). Concerns Based Adoption Model is a helpful  tool to ensure you provide coaching support Ts need when they need it. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/LaurieElishPipe/status/1041487873374126087

The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals (2008). [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/731/2015/07/CBAM-explanation.pdf

LIBE 467 – Managing and Evaluating Reference Service

This latest blog post encompasses a personal reflection on managing and evaluating reference services in a school library – the second theme in my latest teacher-librarianship course, LIBE 467 Information Services.

Managing and evaluating a school library’s reference collection is both challenging and rewarding.  In regards to the reference interview, the act of clarifying and assisting with students’ reference needs has been extremely satisfying.  I have enjoyed developing new questioning techniques in order to narrow down students’ areas of interest, as suggested in Riedling’s Reference skills for the school librarian: tools and tips.  I also found that through these experiences I have become more familiar with the reference section of my library by knowing its strengths and weaknesses. I know what I physically have and have not in my collection, and when I don’t have a particular resource, like information on the pangolin, I have learned to curate some digital resources for students.  I have also started to explore the online databases available through my school district as well as applications like Epic.

In contrast to the joys of discovering students’ interests through the interview process lies the challenge of assisting and facilitating research and resource-based projects.  Even though this is a passion of mine and in spite of spending countless hours reviewing and refining the way I facilitate this kind of learning, I am not completely happy with the process.  The biggest challenge with this kind of learning is helping students generate ideas for research. I am passionate about giving students choice over their research/learning, and for the most part, students respond well to the choice but there is always a handful that doesn’t seem to be able to generate their own ideas.  Luckily, I have the opportunity to spend time with Trevor Mackenzie, author of Dive into Inquiry, this week and dig deeper into learning how a teacher-librarian can best support students engaging in resource-based learning activities.

Over the last month or so, I’ve also enjoyed evaluating and organizing my reference collection.  With the help of the Canadian Association of School Libraries’ Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada, I have been able to critically evaluate the reference section of my library for currency, quantity, and curricula connections.  From a print-based perspective my library’s reference section needs maintenance. From a digital resource perspective, my school district provides a number of excellent resources from which students can develop their inquiry skills.      

Before taking this course the question of print vs digital reference material was an easy choice.  There was only one right answer, but as many of the teachers in my school and school district move away from screen-related activities in favour of less distractive, more mindful, practices I see a need for current, high-quality reference materials in my library collection as well as digital encyclopedias and databases.  

References

Asselin, M., Branch, J. L., & Oberg, D. (2006). Achieving information literacy: standards for school library programs in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Association for School Libraries.

Creations Inc. (n.d.). Instantly access 35,000 high-quality books for kids. Retrieved February 16, 2020, from https://www.getepic.com/

MacKenzie, T. [Trevor MacKenzie]. (2016, Sep 16). Dive into Inquiry [Video File]. YouTube.  Retrieved February 16, 2020, from https://youtu.be/gCyW1gLcwF0

MacKenzie, T. (2016). Dive into inquiry. Irvine, CA: EdTechTeam Press.

Riedling, A. M., Shake, L., & Houston, C. (2013). Reference skills for the school librarian: tools and tips.


LIBE 467C – The Foundation of References Services

My next several blog postings take the form of personal reflections on the topic of information services, which is the next course in my teacher-librarianship diploma. 

“It is human nature to be curious. Throughout our lives, we seek answers to all kinds of questions. Having a healthy curiosity and a willingness to seek answers is a prerequisite for lifelong learning” (Riedling, 2013).

As curriculum moves into more open-ended, question-driven inquiry learning the more important it is to have a framework to guide students through this challenging process.  Having time to evaluate some models that can help in the inquiry/research process was very helpful. I was drawn to the BCTLA Points of Inquiry model because of its simplicity.  As much as I love the inquiry process though, I think many models fail to consider the self-regulated learning (SRL) skills required for students to perform well in these situations. The image below is a model that integrates both SRL with the information inquiry process. 

                                                                     (Lister, 2015)

As we moved away from the information inquiry process into the area of evaluating a reference collection I learned some valuable skills, which I am already putting to good use.  I have to be honest though, when I say that the reference section of my library had, up until the start of this calendar year, been largely forgotten. I knew that the reference section of my library was weak and I was unmoved by the problem because I assumed that all reference work is best when it’s completed online anyway.  How wrong I was! It’s clear that from the readings that school libraries should have access to both print and electronic reference materials. If the rule of thumb is that a good reference source is one that saves to answer a question, then crowdsourced reference materials like Wikipedia (the first port of call for many students) may not be the answer, and instead, a quality print reference may suffice.

Much like the frameworks for weeding I learned in LIBE 461 (MUSTI and CREW), evaluating a reference section is important for the overall health, condition, and usability of the library.  I found having a different framework for evaluating different reference items a little overwhelming. It would be beneficial for me to merge the methods we learned in Chapter 2 of Riedling into a framework that would work for most of the items in the reference collection.  Reidling (2009) says, “In order to create and maintain a school reference collection that meets the informational needs of students, effective selection and evaluation of resources by the school librarian is essential” (p. 25). With this in mind, it is important to consider areas such as content, accuracy, bias, authority, diversity, and accessibility when evaluating one’s reference collection.

References:

Lister, C. A. P. (2015). A Framework for Implementing Inquiry-Based Learning in the Elementary Classroom. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/6950

Riedling, A. M., Shake, L., & Houston, C. (2013). Reference skills for the school librarian: tools and tips.

LIBE 477 Final Project: Final Post

This final post for my LIBE 477 Special Topics in Teacher Librarianship course contains two artifacts of learning that represent my final project. Both are on the topic of Connections-based Learning (CBL) which was developed by British Columbia educator, Sean Robinson.

Both resources are targeted towards educators who are considering engaging their students in CBL related activities.  It is not meant to be a thorough dissection of this pedagogical approach to teaching but merely a resource that provides an introduction to the topic and includes an accompanying resource for educators interested in this type of work.  


I plan to share the presentation part of the project with staff at my school with the goal of working more collaboratively with them in the future.  

The second artifact is an open collaborative document designed to be circulated within my personal learning networks in the hope of identifying and documenting a wide variety of connections that can be used when engaging in CBL. 

The spreadsheet can be accessed and edited by anyone with the link and is broken down into three distinct categories: 

  1. Organizations Who Connect Educators to CBL Opportunities
    1. Organizations that find experts for educators to interact with
  2. Individual Contacts Known To Offer CBL Opportunities
    1. Individuals who volunteers their time to connect and share their knowledge  
  3. Organizations That Directly Offer CBL Opportunities
    1. Organizations that offer one type of classroom connection such as Mystery Skype

My goal for the spreadsheet is that others will use it and add to it if and when they have positive CBL experiences, thus growing the network and establishing connections in more areas of society.   

Challenges

I experienced several challenges narrowing down my final topic and then building a digital artifact to share.  The biggest challenge was feeling like I needed to know more about Connections-based Learning in order to speak to it.  In the end, I decided that my project was merely and an introduction to the topic as the pedagogical framework is complex.  

Also, I’m not sure how successful the spreadsheet will be.  I haven’t had too much success in the past when sharing a ‘live’ document and inviting others to contribute to it. 

Successes

Knowing that CBL has it roots in constructivism was comforting.  As I continue to construct my own knowledge around learning I like to attach my beliefs to a legitimate learning theory.  It also happens to complement some other areas of interest such as inquiry-based learning and play-based learning. 

Future

I think the library can become the hub of CBL in my school.  It has the hardware, software, and physical space required to facilitate such learning.  It also provides an opportunity for me to work directly with classroom teachers and students on some of the more interesting local and global issues of our time.    

References

Arnold, E. K., & Santoso, C. (2017). A boy called Bat.

Digital Citizenship School Program. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/digital-citizenship-school-program.

Harasim, L. 2012, Learning theory and online technologies, Routledge, New York.

Paterson, C. 2016, ‘Leading a school to be global. Case Study 2.4’, The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching, International Society for Technology in Education, Eugene, Oregon/Arlington, VA.

Robinson, Sean. (2019, April 15). Connections based Learning. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGrkUq0YtYk

Robinson, S. (n.d.). Connections-based Learning. Retrieved November 23, 2019, from https://connectionsbasedlearning.com/.

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