October 21, 2011

Module 4- Learning Log 3- Final Log

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 4 at 5:36 pm by lmt84

This course has opened my eyes to what collaboration can truly become when librarian and teacher work side by side. I already knew that the library is at the heart of the school, but if no one is taking the time to use the resources, then the program’s potential is unfortunately non- existent. I understand that the librarian must remain visible and active in the school community, constantly putting herself out there to advertise the worth of her program. Collaborative relationships take time to develop, so it is up to us to get them started.

We must always be on the look-out for opportunities to insert our standards into those of the content areas. Teachers and students alike must see that our curriculum is very much so related to all other content areas in the school. We must always look at situations with a new perspective, offering teachers our knowledge of resources and tools that will support their objectives. Collaboration gives us the chance to showcase some fantastic strategies such as Backwards Design, which allows all units to be molded around content objectives. If the lessons are tailored to the objectives, we are giving our students a very rich educational experience.

Collaboration also allows us the chance to truly aim our lessons to all types of learners. By offering teachers our knowledge of certain technologies and resources, we increase the chance for students to become engaged and motivated to learn. I want to create units with teachers that give students the chance to be in charge of their education. I want them to let their own questions guide their learning experience, making it more authentic and worthwhile to them.

The Inquiry Based Learning Video stated that it is our job to “encourage them to ask new questions that they honestly care about…they are motivated to learn and develop a sense of ownership.” When teachers and librarians work together to ensure that their lessons are creative and speak to the learning styles of all students, we will ultimately create learners who know how to question the information presented to them and possess the ability to think critically about the world around them.

October 19, 2011

Module 4- Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 4 at 2:54 pm by lmt84

I enjoyed reading Catherine Trinkle’s article “Reading for Meaning: Questioning”. As a teacher, it is one of my goals to expose students to various question types. As 9th graders, I find that they tend to be ‘stuck’ on the literal level. These ‘thin’ questions tend to elicit responses that require answers directly from the text, requiring little original thought. While literal questions are important for plot information and basic comprehension, I try to get the 9th graders to create and interact with ‘thick’ or analytical questions. I really try my best to have all students comfortable with creating and answering these types of questions, as they require synthesis of information as well as students to add their own interpretations. This will not only help to prepare them for English 10, but all their other subject areas as well.

I was glad to see that Trinkle noted the importance of questioning during the research process. This tied very nicely to my collaborative unit in which I worked with another English 9 teacher to create a project for her English 9 Honors students. Trinkle states, “Students need to be told that they should ask questions throughout their research and that all questions are valid” (103). Aside from generating preliminary questions, I want the students to understand that they should question their process, how easily they are understanding/progressing through the process, as well as the information and sources that they find. I feel that having students constantly questioning (and creating documents that encourage this—ie. rubrics) serves as a form of self-assessment, which I can then examine in order to help students to the best of my ability. I tried to incorporate questioning into my unit, impressing on students that deep questioning will yield thorough research and therefore the possibility for an insightful product.

October 15, 2011

Module 4- Learning Log 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 4 at 12:18 pm by lmt84

I found the information in Clara Hoover’s article, Research-Based Instructional Strategies to be a very lucid moment for me. The strategies that are mentioned are not new to most educators, but the article did a lovely job of highlighting the importance of using the strategies in the classroom as well as the media center. I feel that by exposing the students to the strategies time and time again, we are only helping them to be more successful in their studies.

Hoover states, “It is important to understand the potential each strategy has to improve student achievement and, more importantly, to collaborate with teachers in designing instruction that incorporates the strategies” (26). I think that in this profession, you could potentially be presented with countless strategies to implement into your classroom or library. These possibilities can almost be overwhelming. After reading this article, I would suggest these 9 strategies to the teachers at my school. By focusing on a few strategies and working to really strengthen their use in the classroom, I feel that you would be doing your students a greater service rather than bombarding them with a new strategy each day. Aside from limiting the strategies used in the classroom, I see that the strategies will be most successful when I collaborate with the teachers. In the sense that ‘two heads are better than one’, collaboration offers me the chance to look over units/lessons with a fresh set of eyes, therefore allowing me to see potential spots to insert strategies. Ideally, I would hope to collaborate with teachers from the start of a unit, therefore ensuring that my curriculum as well as theirs is being met, that differentiation is occurring, and that strategies to help students be successful are being integrated into the lessons. If this occurs, I am stepping into the role of Instructional Partner, Teacher, and Informational Specialist (Empowering Learners). Acting as these roles will further help to showcase that I am a valuable resource to both students and teachers.

I also saw a strong connection between this article and several readings from Module 3. It is evident to me that students need to know the expected goals, objectives, and standards every time they embark on a new project. This is where I see rubrics as being essential for students. Hoover writes, “Working with teachers to create a strong scoring rubric for these representations and telling students ahead of time/what is expected of them is something the school library media specialist can do” (28). As an English teacher I use rubrics for every major assignment I give my students. I do not see any reason why the librarian should not be a part of the rubric design, especially if he/she has been a major part of the unit or lesson at hand. I would love the chance to insert AASL standards into the teacher’s rubric. This would show the student that they are held accountable for what they do in the media center and that the process counts just as much as the final product. After all, the process is where the true learning occurs, where teacher and librarian monitor student understanding, and where students are given the chance to self-assess. If the process adheres to specific standards, then ultimately it will yield a strong final product.

October 9, 2011

Module 3- Learning Log 5- Final Log

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 3 at 8:39 pm by lmt84

From the readings as well as classroom experience, I see that differentiation has great value in the world of education. Our students are all different, therefore they learn differently. We as educators cannot assume that one lesson will suit the needs of every student, which is where differentiation comes into play. Differentiation is described by Gail Bush as “A learner-centered instructional design model that acknowledges that students have individual learning styles, motivation, abilities, and, therefore, readiness to learn” (253).  It would be fantastic if teachers could implement differentiation into every unit they create—this will help to make certain that we doing our best to reach all types of learners.

I like how differentiation provides the opportunity for collaboration between the librarian and classroom teacher. I feel that only through collaboration can differentiation truly be maximized and successful. Gail Bush states that in order for differentiation to occur, “the library media specialist is prepared to consult with teachers to match students with the appropriate resources” (254). It is up to the librarians to have many ideas and resources to share with the classroom teacher for all aspects of differentiation.  

I think that a key to being able to implement differentiation is the collection itself. The librarian must work her hardest to ensure that she has resources for varying ability levels (this includes resources for low level, on level, and high level readers, students who receive special education services, as well as those who receive ESOL services). I feel that it is also important to have resources that vary by genre and format. If the collection is not well rounded, then unfortunately it cannot serve the diverse learning styles in the school. Having a varied collection also serves to help students meet AASL Standard 4.1.4- seek information for personal learning in a variety of formats and genres. The librarian should therefore be very careful when developing her collection, as the library should truly be a space for all learners.

When the librarians carefully select varying resources and technologies for the school as well as work with teachers, I feel that differentiation has a greater chance of occurring. Bush states that “Differentiated instruction is simply an honest and mindful approach to teaching our diverse student populations. It acknowledges individual differences and seeks to make learning meaningful for all students” (255).  In order to make differentiation a reality for all content areas in the school, it is crucial that the librarian be a central figure in the planning, creation, delivery, and assessment of instruction.

October 8, 2011

Module 3- Learning Log 4

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 3 at 2:24 pm by lmt84

The readings on assessments were very helpful to me in looking at assessments through the eyes of a librarian. As a classroom teacher, I use diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments throughout my units, but I had never considered how these would impact my future as a librarian. The Pappas article stated, “High quality school library media programs can increase academic achievement scores by as much as 20% (Lance 2001) (180). If we want to show that we have had an effect on the school in any way, then I see assessments as the means to serve as our evidence.

Assessment requires the librarian to look at her program with a critical eye. In order to best meet the needs of the students, collaboration should occur with classroom teachers. Developing assessment tools allows the opportunity to meet with content teachers to design tools that directly apply to their curriculum, ensuring that students are being exposed to information literacy skills throughout the school day. Teaching information literacy fluency in the library alone is not enough; students will not absorb the skills or the importance of having them. Working with teachers to create meaningful assessments that yield data to assist the student at each step of the assignment is key to proving the impact that your program has on student success. By being involved, we can show the school that information literacy is crucial for our learners and that we are a resource that cannot be denied.

It is our responsibility to advocate for our program and we should constantly showcase that we do have a positive impact on the school environment. Stripling writes, “Library media specialists who are able to provide evidence that students have learned information fluency skills will be more successful in their teaching and more integral t the instructional program of the school”  (170). By creating assessments with teachers and using them throughout our lessons/units, we will gain data that helps to show student growth. It is up to us to communicate this data to our teachers and administration. If we do, we can prove to everyone that the library is in fact a central and essential part of the school.

October 5, 2011

Module 3- Learning Log 3

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 3 at 2:49 pm by lmt84

As a classroom teacher, I have learned about multiple intelligences in college and have also attended a few professional development sessions on this topic. Despite this, I found the articles very useful because they offered new perspectives on multiple intelligences as well as new information on the topic.

The article An Educator’s Journey Towards Multiple Intelligences was a great refresher for me on this subject. Although brief, it was extremely informative. My favorite quote from this article was “MI theory is neither a curriculum nor a goal nor an endpoint, but it remains, 26 years after its birth, a powerful tool for helping educators to teach more effectively and students to learn more deeply and enduringly”(6). MI is quite different than Backwards Design, which revolves around the notion of starting to plan with the objective/goal, and going backwards from there. While this model has great value, I do see the importance of multiple intelligences in the world of education. Educators should look at MI as the means to achieve a goal or standard. One can use MI while engaging in Backwards Design, therefore you are using 2 beneficial strategies at a time which will lead to strong lessons.  MI Theory is truly a tool that we should try to use on a daily basis in order to best reach all of our learners.

Our students learn in different ways, so it is only natural that one type of activity will not suit every child’s needs. I think it would be beneficial to do some sort of assessment at the start of the year so you can see what kind of learners are in the school. As the librarian, I would approach the teachers to do just this—it could be as simple as creating a survey for students to take using Google Forms or Survey Monkey. After analyzing the results with the teacher, we could then plan out how to incorporate myself and other technologies/resources into future lessons and units. If we take the time to tailor our lessons to the individual needs in our class, we will create a more authentic learning experience for the students. There might be a stigma that to incorporate multiple intelligences, one must give up a large part of their planning time. By pairing with the librarian, I believe that more work would not be added to the teachers’ plate because you have two heads working on an idea. Perhaps this is one way to sway teachers into designing their lessons around the MI theory. One educator in the article Teachers Are Taking Multiple-Intelligences Theory to Heart states, “My philosophy is, you don’t have time not to do those things” (2). Schools that embrace the MI theory have seen the positive effects of this practice first hand. They have students who are more engaged and are therefore achieving high academic success. I could not see something like timing be enough of a deterrent for wanting to try this strategy.

I see MI Theory as an excellent opportunity to show the worth of the school’s library media program. The librarian can use her expertise regarding resources and technology to gear teacher lessons towards several intelligences. Librarians offer teachers the chance to truly include all students in the classroom. Not only can we really help our students to learn better, but MI allows us to further insert our curriculum into that of the content teachers. The article Tapping Into Multiple Intelligences echoes my thinking, “Using multiple intelligences theory to teach information literacy standards is a natural combination. Information skills help students become lifelong learners” (6). Getting involved in teacher classrooms and enforcing multiple intelligences offers us the chance to come up with very creative activities that also revolve around AASL Standards. We can meet AASL  Standard 1.3 by being an instructional partner to teachers and alerting them to the great possibilities for student engagement. To a degree we are even encouraging 1.1.6—read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (textual, visual, media, digital). By addressing students’ multiple intelligences, we will ultimately see that some students learn better by reading, others by viewing, others by doing. This is where having a variety of resources in our collection can really influence the impact that librarians have on the school. By showing teachers that we have resources that allow for MI Theory, we are taking a stand as an educational leader and giving our students a greater chance at success.

Another quote from Teachers Are Taking Multiple-Intelligences Theory to Heart that struck me was that MI “gives them the ability to explore and learn and resist the temptation to define themselves through others.”(3) Multiple Intelligences encourage our students to recognize how they learn and start to accept it as their strengths. If they realize that teachers are playing to these strengths and that they actually can be successful while being engaged in learning, I feel that they will see school in a new, positive manner. I feel that it would be fantastic to have a school in which differences are celebrated thus causing learning to thrive.

October 1, 2011

Module 3- Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 3 at 5:12 pm by lmt84

I enjoyed viewing the two videos posted on the Module 3 homepage. Even though I find all of the articles interesting, the videos give me the chance to see students and teachers engaged in inquiry based learning. When I see this with my own eyes, I see how great the potential of these learning models can be.

I was intrigued by the Multiple Intelligences Thrive in Smartville video. The students looked so excited to be learning, and all of the classrooms shown in the video were simply buzzing with activity and creativity. One quote that really struck me from the video was from Dr. Gardner himself. He stated, “Education which treats everybody the same way is actually the most unfair education.” As educators, we do not need to read articles or studies to know that students learn differently—we see this first hand in our classes on a daily basis. Therefore, we cannot expect every student to learn at the same pace, or expect one worksheet to teach the needed skills to everyone in the class. This is where adapting the concept of multiple intelligences comes into play. If we, as educators and librarians, can recognize that students need to learn in the way that speaks to their ‘smarts’, then we will give them a better chance at being successful students.

It was interesting to me that this school not only embraces the concept of multiple intelligences, but actually sets up instruction and daily life around it. I saw students that were not only 100% engaged in what they were doing, but were creating products that showed true learning was occurring. One teacher said that students are “Excited about learning each day and excited about showing what they know. It’s not about just making a grade on a test, but actually saying, “I can do this. Watch me.”“  It was refreshing to see students taking such ownership and pride in their learning. The video made me want to be a part of a learning environment like this.

The video What is Authentic Assessment? also helped to further speak to the articles for this module. Each reading this module has shown me the importance of knowing how our students learn, and adjusting our lesson planning in order to better accommodate student learning styles/needs. I also see the importance of assessment, in terms of before, during, and after the lesson/unit. If we do this, we will know how to best serve our students and the students can self-assess how they are progressing through the given skill set. It seems to me that in order to truly engage students, we must motivate them with activities that speak to how they learn. In other words, the learning experiences have to be authentic. One teacher in the video stated that authentic assessment is the “Window into the true understanding of the student.” We can truly see how each individual student is doing by providing hands-on lessons which provide students the opportunity to take their knowledge base and create products that showcase their understanding. Another quote that I liked was when a teacher stated, “Work needs to be something that the student really cares about… it needs to address students in their hearts.” When we reach the point where our assignments are student-centered and they are taking charge of their own learning, I believe that this is when the most valuable learning moments will occur.

September 29, 2011

Module 3- Learning Log 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 3 at 5:46 pm by lmt84

Backwards Design is not a concept I am unfamiliar with. It is one that I have often used myself when planning units/lessons for English 9. Backwards design offers you the opportunity to start with your overall goals and standards. This type of planning allows the lesson to develop around the standard, rather than creating a lesson and then trying to fit it to the standard. I feel that Backwards Design thus ensures a more carefully crafted lesson, as each step of the creation process will tie into specific objectives and thus be a lesson of strong quality.

Backwards Design also offers us the opportunity to again establish, maintain, and increase our collaborative efforts with classroom teachers. This model allows us to join with teachers in order to create a lesson that integrates standards and skill sets from both the content curriculum and school library curriculum. If we want our students to truly develop their information literacy skills, then they should be practicing such skills in all of their content areas. When this occurs, we are giving them the chance to grow into more successful learners.

I like how Backwards Design offers the chance for an authentic learning experience to occur. Backwards Design ensures that we are creating strong lessons that give the students the chance to experience inquiry based learning.  Marjorie Pappas writes, “Inquiry, problem solving, or cooperative learning approaches cause students to take some responsibility for gathering information and applying that information to the construction of a product or performance task” (182). When our students are personally invested in their work, they will bring more effort to their tasks. This can only lead to students thinking more deeply about the information at hand, as well as staying engaged to create a product that reflects their learning experience. Every teacher wants their students to be excited about learning as well as how to showcase their learning in unique ways. I see Backwards Design as the means for the librarian to join with the classroom teacher in order to create units that challenge, offer new technologies, and ultimately inspire students to do great things.

September 25, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 5- Final Log

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 5:08 pm by lmt84

I found the media center observations to be extremely worthwhile. I had never stepped foot into an elementary media center to observe students or a lesson in action. I am very used to the high school setting, so this environment was a major shock for me. However, it was actually quite fun to see the students engaged in their work. I witnessed more engagement with the 5th graders than I did with the 9th graders. Maybe if we change the lessons and assignments in a high school to those which truly catch and maintain the interest of the students, we will see an increase in their engagement as well.

Both of these observations have taught me the value of collaboration and the impact that this collaboration can have on the inquiry based learning that occurs. Fontichiaro writes that “information inquiry is based on a continuous questioning cycle, the essence of lifelong learning” (121). I feel that I observed this to some extent in the elementary school observation, and was disappointed to find this absent at the high school level. In my reflections for the assignment, I commented on how I would go about changing both assignments, allowing for a more true learning experience. Both lessons were missing an essential question to guide the student learners. If we want to develop students who constantly question and engage in dialogue with the information presented to them, I feel that it is only necessary to model these strategies for them. If we truly mold our lessons around essential questions that require our students to be more critical in their thoughts, in turn we will develop more independent learners.

Collaboration is key to creating authentic learning experiences. We, as librarians, must use our knowledge of information literacy skills as well as technology, and insert them into the content curricula of the classroom teachers. When we work as a team, we can ensure that our students are mastering content skills as well as becoming information literate learners in order to survive and thrive in the 21st century world. Collaboration will lead to lessons that challenge our students, which will lead them to deeper engagement with and synthesis of the material at hand. When this type of collaboration occurs, “Both student and teachers alike will begin to see that a true sense of accomplishment in the library media center comes from the genuine struggle to make meaning” (Zmuda 62). Learning is not easy. By creating inquiry based learning projects, teachers and librarians can work together to ensure that the learning process is engaging, which will ultimately help students to see the information presented to them as being invaluable.

September 24, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 4

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 3:09 pm by lmt84

All of the videos that I viewed for this module were fantastic! It was amazing to see students 100% engaged and genuinely excited to learn. Furthermore, the projects that the students were completing were truly quality work—they were assignments that required research, analysis, and hands-on experience.

A quote that best sums up project based learning to me was from the video titled Project Based Learning: An Overview. The video stated that “putting students at the center of the learning process is the key to transforming the educational system.” I do believe that if the students are engaged in the material that they will be more personally invested in their own education. The educational system today is still largely based in fact finding, memorization of facts, and assignments that often require no original thought on the part of the students. Project based learning is a revolution that puts the students as leaders—teachers give them the tools needed for students to create their own educational experience. This is an opportunity for students to take charge of their learning, work with others to exchange ideas, and ultimately mold their own unique education.

One point that I am struggling with is the fact that although project based learning sounds exciting, our school systems are still very much grounded in local and state assessments. With the teachers feeling pressure for students to receive high scores (especially since teacher effectiveness may be tied to student scores), I feel like teachers may not see project based learning assignments as ‘worthy’ of their time. They seem to take longer than ‘typical’ projects such as papers or textbook assignments. I would love to show teachers in my school these videos, as to inspire others to take part in these unique opportunities. It will be interesting to see if I myself can push my lessons closer to inquiry based learning, even though I too teach an assessed area. The Project Based Learning: An Overview video stated “Standardization is a guarantee of no standards”. Perhaps education will enter a new phase where students are not judged by a score, but by their creativity and growth in the subject area.

I was really surprised by the quality projects that the students produced in the Anatomy of a Project videos. The students seemed genuinely happy to be doing the work, and I feel that this is because the projects had relevancy to their own lives and environments. It helped them to foster ownership, which only increased their enthusiasm and dedication. I see project based learning as a fantastic way to encourage students to work with those around them, which helps them to develop interpersonal skills that they will need in school and life in general. Project based learning is a way to give students authentic learning experiences, which in turn creates life-long learners. I am unsure of the direction education is headed, but the skills students gain from these types of projects will help them forever. No matter where our students are off to “creativity, cooperation, and problem solving” (Anatomy of a Project: Kinetic Conundrum) will always be there and are thus invaluable skills to master at a young age.

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