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.

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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.

September 23, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 3

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 5:06 pm by lmt84

I am getting so much from the readings and videos on Inquiry Based Learning. I have never read about this learning experience before, so all of the information is very new, yet inspiring to me. Essential questioning plays a part in inquiry based learning because it helps to make the learning student-centered as well as an authentic learning experience.

I like how inquiry based learning emphasizes that learning is a continuous cycle. It begins with an essential question which leads one into questioning the information that he/she finds, and then turns into the learner questioning his/her interpretations. All of this requires critical thought, which fosters more independent learners. Fontichiaro states, “The learner who masters self-reflection becomes more likely to be not only a true independent learner, but also one who can help others master the information inquiry interactions” (122). Teaching our students to question everything, adapt their thinking, and analyze information encourages them to engage in self-reflection. I think that this also encourages metacognition—students are thinking about how they are thinking and more importantly getting to the heart of why they are thinking. These types of learners will thrive in any learning environment, and will be key helpers to those who are still developing their own skills.

I found the Preddy chapters of the textbook to be especially informative. I like how Leslie Preddy gives information for each step of how to support student inquiry throughout a research process. Again, my belief that it is important for students to see value in the work that they do in school, has been confirmed. They must be engaged in the topic in order for their chances of success to increase. Preddy writes that a key piece of inquiry driven learning is “allowing each student to take a leadership role and ownership of what will be learned and researched by developing his or her own, personalized interest in the topic” (136). When students feel personally responsible and connected to their work, I feel that this leads to a sense of pride. When students reach the point where they truly are proud of their work, I think that they will work even harder to make it a successful experience. Inquiry based learning is more than a student writing a good paper or receiving a perfect score on a test—the products that they create and skills that they develop throughout these processes will possibly impact them for life.

Lastly, I recognize that some of the best inquiry based learning opportunities are the result of collaboration. As a librarian I would jump at the chance to partake in this type of opportunity. I find myself wondering how many people at my school know about inquiry based learning. If I were the librarian, I would try to recruit teachers to collaborate with me on this type of learning experience. I would certainly show the videos to the teachers as proof that student engagement and learning is at an all time high. Preddy states that regarding planning for inquiry projects we must “recognize that collaborative planning is a fulfilling, challenging, and creative process, not traditional and mechanical” (130). Perhaps the fact that this type of collaboration is more inventive and outside the box will actually hook more teachers into trying it out. I simply think to myself that if the planning piece sounds fun, imagine what the actual activity will be like for the students

September 21, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 2

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 5:27 pm by lmt84

As I begin to read more about Inquiry Based Learning, I now see just how important it is for students to learn to question. The readings have shown me that questioning is a key ingredient in creating independent, critical thinkers. In order to truly mold our students into life-long learners, we must teach them that questioning is an essential skill.

Questioning is a very natural part of our lives, and I see evidence of this through the genuine curiosity of toddlers. It’s important that we keep this drive for knowledge as we continue through life. As educators, we want to encourage our students to constantly ask “why” and “how” when they are presented with information. Constantly using these questions will enable them to have a true dialogue with the material in front of them, which will ultimately keep them engaged in the content. Valenza’s article stated “Questions allow us to control our lives and allow us to make sense of a confusing world.” If we train students to see the value of questioning what they are given, we are only giving them the opportunity to better navigate through the vast and complex world that exists outside of the classroom.

When we stress the importance of questioning, we are helping to create independent thinkers. Those who question will be those who do not seek to simply find the answers—they want to explore issues at a deeper level. This will lead to a more meaningful learning experience, which will positively impact student success. From the readings I gather that questioning should not only be geared towards the actual content but to teachers and classmates as well. Conversation and collaboration will again lead to the assignment at hand being investigated and analyzed in a more thoughtful way. Fontichiaro confirms this notion when she writes, “Questions trigger the interactions that can eventually lead to greater understanding of an environment, a situation, a problem, an issue, or actions of a person or group” (121). If we want our students to have authentic learning experiences, questioning seems to be a critical aspect that must take place throughout the entire assignment. The readings have led me to believe that questioning leads to an increase in engagement. When students are truly engaged in the content, they will work harder to find answers that satisfy their needs. In turn they now have the capability to analyze these results on a more critical level.

September 14, 2011

Module 2- Learning Log 1

Posted in Learning Logs- Module 2 at 8:13 pm by lmt84

In Module 1, I stated that I noticed leadership as being a dominant ingredient for successful collaboration. I continue to see its importance after viewing the “Are You a Leader?” and TED video.

In Module 1 we read Marjorie Derven’s article that depicted how Social Networking is being utilized in companies such as IBM. I drew comparisons between a school and a business; both are groups of people working together to best serve their clientele. My type of thinking was verified when Simon Sinek stated “The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” Teachers in the school will ‘do business’ or collaborate with you if they know what you stand for. Also, as librarians, we want to ‘do business’ with people who share the same vision as us—to inspire ethical information seeking behaviors and create life-long learners. If one’s values and goals are evident for all to see, the potential for establishing collaborative relationships increases.

Librarians are one of the few people in the school who can work with almost every staff member. Thus, they have to be viewed as someone with knowledge/skill sets that other people need to have. As an educational leader in the building, “School librarians must play a leading role in weaving such skills throughout the curriculum so that all members of the community are effective users of ideas and information (Fontichiaro 46). It is therefore up to us, the librarians, to make certain that we are taking every effort to reach out to all staff members and students. If we are successful in doing so, not only will we have a staff that is confident to lead our students, but our students themselves will become more independent, critical thinkers.

As I begin to read about Inquiry Learning, the theme of leadership will stay on my mind. I will continue to analyze myself in order to see if I can lead others through understanding what Inquiry Learning is all about. I will keep Simon’s questions, “What’s your purpose, what’s your cause, what’s your belief?”, on the forefront of my mind as I continue through Module 2. By re-examining these questions, re-evaluating my stances, and formulating the answers to them, it will allow me the chance to grow a program that can really impact the entire school.