Christopher Lister

Open educator working in British Columbia, Canada. Looking to connect with educators, share my knowledge, learn from others, and improve my practice.

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/.

LIBE 477 Final Project: Audience Considerations

Last week I discussed five potential topics for my final project.  It is time to get serious and narrow down some options. No doubt I’ll work on most of the ideas at some point in the near future but right now I’m leaning towards creating an artifact around the power of connections-based learning.  

YouTube Storytelling Channel

It’s possible that staff at my school could work together on the storytime YouTube channel, which could be most impactful during long breaks such as Christmas, Easter, and during the summer when students may not be reading as much as they would do during the regular school.  

Living Library Project

The Living Library Project was (is) a labour of love and I was really proud of the project and idea even if the execution may not have been as successful as I hoped it would be.  I can definitely incorporate storytelling into my current position as a teacher-librarian so it may still be possible to breathe new life into the old project.  

Information Literacy Resource

Over the last week, I have flipped back and forth between developing a resource centred around connections-based learning and working on a resource for teachers and students on the topic of information literacy.  The topic of information literacy, despite its importance, seems so vast it is difficult to know where to start and stop.  

Struggles

One thing that is making me second guess both of these options is a movement that I see emerging in my school, and to a larger extent in my district, away from the integration of digital technologies.  The rationale is that students have too much screen time at home and their addiction to screens is having a negative effect on their ability to concentrate, remain focused, and engage in meaningful discussion and dialogue in school.  The rise of place-based learning, outdoor education, and mindfulness seem to be a better fit for those looking to help their students become more present and attentive in school. I think there can be a happy medium but I’ve noticed that when people first feel the need for a shift to occur they tend to move to the opposite extreme before coming back to a more central mindset.  It is a shame that at a time when digital technologies can facilitate global learning in ways unimaginable a decade ago that some teachers, schools, and school districts, will not necessarily experience this valuable and underutilized resource.   

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/26/children-tech-addicts-school

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/technology-can-hurt-students-learning-research-shows-1.3385864

Have you noticed a move away from the use of digital technologies in your school/district?     

Connections-based Learning

Having expressed some concern about how a technology-related resource may be received in my school, I’ve decided to forge ahead with the topic of connections-based learning because these experiences afford students the opportunity to develop empathy, discuss global issues such as climate change and poverty, and fight prejudice.  I plan to develop a resource that helps teachers better understand what connections-based learning means, how it can motivate and inspire students, ways to find connections, and the hardware/software required to make these connections. My resource will target teachers, so there will be several factors to consider for a successful implementation.      

Access

In my school, the comfort level around technology usage is vast.  Like most schools I know, there are teachers who integrate technology into their curriculum on a daily basis and those that the mere utterance of the word causes panic to set in.  I’m being a little facetious here, but the point is that I need to develop a resource that is accessible for all educators, not just those with lots of prior knowledge on the topic.  

Content

The content needs to be low floor, high ceiling.  The presentation needs to avoid technical jargon but at the same time meet the needs of those looking for more technical information. 

Time and Delivery

Any educators’ time is precious and I need to be respectful of that.  Some considerations around how and when to deliver the information will be necessary.

Support

It is important that teachers feel supported in trying new things, so I need to think of ways to provide additional help to those who require it.  Something as simple as team teaching, in the beginning, could be super helpful.     

References

Research-Base: Connections-based Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://connectionsbasedlearning.com/research-base.

LIBE 477 Final Project Considerations

For the next three weeks, my posts will be dedicated to my final project for my course, LIBE 477 Special Topics in Teacher Librarianship.  

I have several ideas floating around in my mind for a final project.

Connections-based learning

I’ve discussed connections-based learning many times before.  It is an area of great interest to me because of its potential to motivate and inspire students.  I could produce a presentation to share with staff on the topic as well as collate resources that would help people connect with experts outside the walls of their schools.   

YouTube Channel – read alouds

I like the idea of extending beyond the walls of the school.  It’s a theme… Having the ability to record short read alouds for students and storing them in a place that can be accessed at a user’s convenience promotes a love of reading and is appealing to me.  I could even introduce a green screen to liven things up. The resource would be the channel where the clips are stored and I could put together a user manual of how I set everything up.  

YouTube Channel – book reviews

I’m always looking for reviews on great books and so, I imagine, are students and teachers.  Creating a repository of book reviews would allow me to reach a larger audience and could potentially lead to students trying different genres than they are used to.  Once I have a few reviews on the site I could open it up to other TLs in my district who could then add additional reviews of their own.  

Revisiting the Living Library Project

The Living Library Project was developed by my wife, Suzanne Bartel, and I when I first started teaching.  We were both inspired by people’s stories after attending our first WE Day.  This quote by Craig and Marc Kielburger at the event resonated with both of us.

“In all corners of the globe, storytelling is a longstanding tradition with significance that’s lost on no one.  It’s vital to preserving culture. It speaks of moments of pride. It speaks of moments of injustice. It offers an opportunity to learn.  Most importantly, it inspires us to create change for the future” (Craig and Marc Kielburger.)

We came back to our school in the hopes of helping students find their own stories and to have those stories inspire others.  The Living Library needs a refresh and a new approach so my final project could somehow centre around giving the site a refresh and a new direction.  Perhaps in my new role as teacher-librarian, I can open it up to include more students in my school. 

Collating information literacy resources – content creation app

In a time when we are inundated with information, providing a resource for students and teachers to help navigate the flood of data may be helpful to both parties.  I could use a content creation app such as Scoop. It! or Paper.li to collate and share resources, articles, and content on the topic of information literacy, media literacy, and digital literacy.  I could also help to define some of these terms and provide visuals that explain each of their components.   

References

Bartel, S., & Lister, C. (2017, January 20). The Living Library Project. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://livinglibraryproject.ca/.

Collect great content. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://paper.li/.

Content Curation Tool. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://www.scoop.it/.

Empowering Students and Teachers at WE Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2019, from https://www.we.org/en-CA/our-work/we-schools/.


LIBE 477 Professional Development: A Personal Summary

This week’s post represents a summary of learning around PLN’s, Information Literacy, Learning Commons, 21st Century Learning, and Professional Development related to my teacher-librarianship diploma course LIBE 477.

What are your key takeaways, learning and direction after all this exploration?

I have several takeaways from this series of blog postings both from my own personal reflections and also from the ideas and experiences of my peers in this course.  These last few weeks have reinforced my existing thoughts on professional development – A connected educator is a stronger educator. Through the use of digital technologies, it is now easier than ever to find and connect with like-minded people. I have found that technology continues to play an interesting and exciting part of the role of teachers and teacher-librarians. For example, I am interested in and fascinated by the potential of virtual and augmented reality in schools. These new educational tools allow students to experience learning in ways that didn’t exist before.  Imagine walking among dinosaurs to get an idea of how large they were. Amy’s post on Developing ICT Skills and Pedagogy: Hands-On Learning & Networking introduced me to Microsoft’s CoSpaces for Education.     

For those who are not connected, there is no need to panic, as it appears that many of the school districts in British Columbia are providing inquiry learning opportunities for their staff in the form of after school learning groups.  Schools are getting better at providing and funding opportunities for staff to develop their craft.  

What are the new avenues for development in your personal and professional practice?

There are so many areas of my practice that I’m interested in and would like to develop.  Currently, I am inquisitive about the #storystudio and #looseparts storytelling story writing movement.  I think that the library is the perfect place for the loose parts materials and could be used across the grades in my k-5 school.  It would connect well with the kindergarten and grade 2 prep classes that I teach and it aligns well with my philosophy on play. I don’t know much about it right now, but the TLs in my district are looking to set up a workshop to better understand how it fits within a library learning commons.

I found this article from the UBC journal of Transformative Educational Leadership on the topic of Story Studios very helpful.

A quick Twitter search for #storystudio and #looseparts also provided useful information on what it can look like in the classroom.

What are you going to take with you, moving forward from your own explorations and also from the explorations of others in this class?

Moving forward, I would like to continue to deepen my understanding and application of connections-based learning.  I recently joined a Voxer group on the topic and I am enjoying the voice conversations we are having.  I would love to set up an unofficial Voxer community for those in the Teacher-Librarianship diploma, certificate and Masters program at UBC. I would find the dialogue to be especially powerful. 

Connections-based learning fits nicely into a library learning commons because libraries tend to be the technological hub of many schools. As most students use the library, funding requests are seen as a benefit to the school rather than an individual ‘techie’ classroom teacher. 

Connections-based learning can create opportunities for students to reach outside of the four walls of the school and connect with experts, which can be used to motivate and inspire our youth. Connections-based learning is not without its challenges. Technology can occasionally fail and if one is seeking live, synchronous communication, then time zones can be problematic. Asynchronous opportunities also exist using platforms like Flipgrid, Padlet, Cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite for Education and Office 365, as well as platforms such as Belouga.  Connections-based learning can create meaningful and authentic learning experiences in a connected world by connected students. 

I have just set up a spreadsheet that I plan to leave open for myself and others to add contact information for excellent connection-based-learning activities and experts.

When I think about what I am going to take away from the advice shared by my peers in this course, it has to be the act of continuing to build relationships with educators locally and globally.  So many of the posts I read over the last four weeks expressed how critically important it is to build with, and on, the ideas of others. Teaching can be a lonely and isolating profession, especially if one is not social outgoing or confident in their practice.  Collaboration involves being vulnerable and being vulnerable can be difficult for countless reasons. I am not particularly outgoing and often find it difficult to collaborate, so I first try to find one person to collaborate with. I then focus on developing a positive collaborative experience, which will then hopefully spread to others in my school.  

If you could pick just one topic from Phase 2 that resonated with you, which is it and why?

One exploration that touched my heart over the last four weeks and one that aligns with my passion for social justice was the brief inquiry we conducted on libraries in developing nations.  We acknowledge that in developed nations libraries are important in the development of critical literacy skills but in developing nations libraries save people’s lives (Borgonovi et al., 2018). Libraries may be the only way information is disseminated in a village or a community.  In developing nations, libraries are creating tools and resources targeted to help vulnerable sections of the population. They are beacons of hope, inclusivity, and community spirit!

References:

Borgonovi, F., Centurelli, R., Dernis, H., Grundke, R., Horvát, P., Jamet, S., … Squicciarini, M. (2018). Bridging the Digital Gender Divide. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/internet/bridging-the-digital-gender-divide.pdf

D’Aoust, C. (2018). Story Studios. Transformative Educational Leadership Journal, (November 2018). Retrieved from https://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2018/11/story-studios/

Loudon, A. (2019, October 11). Retrieved from https://mylearninglibrarian.blogspot.com/2019/10/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo_11.html

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