This is one in a continuing series of posts based on questions submitted by participants at the Hawaii Association of School Librarians’ March 1 workshop. As you can see, the questions asked aren’t the kind that get short-and-sweet answers!
Scroll down to the previous posts for earlier questions, slides from the workshop, and participants’ “aha” moments.
Here’s my take on questions about technology integration and rubrics.
How do you have students incorporate technology? Can you share some examples?
Before I start, I want to recommend this free crowdsourced book about ed tech in schools. Our grad students in the University of Michigan School of Education’s MAC program last year wrote it, and it gives some helpful information that can answer those questions nobody ever tells you … like why your school has a filter, what eRate is, what Fair Use means for your classroom, and more. If it’s useful, please leave a comment!
OK, back to the questions at hand …
I like technology when it connects students to information, helps them organize their thinking, helps me check in on their progress, and helps them share what they know in ways that are more powerful than non-tech tools.
If technology does things with the same effectiveness as a tried-and-true print and/or paper-and-pencil technique, then it’s often not worth the trouble to me. I’m worried about what one of your own calls “the beautiful nothing” – products that take time, look gorgeous (because the software engineer did something cool), but truncate students’ need to synthesize.
It’s always helpful to keep in mind that utility trumps novelty when it comes to tool selection in my book, and as many of you resonated with, picking a few tried-and-true tools that you can use in multiple instances means you have more time to do the critical thinking and synthesizing work with kids.
Now, the trick here is that there is a lot of pressure from some ed tech folks to keep tossing tools at you. “60 Tools in 60 Minutes” makes for a dazzling presentation, but do you really want to constantly be teaching kids where to click? (Frankly, running around the lab/classroom/library showing people how to save is both wearing and boring, isn’t it?) And given the speed at which tools change, morph, go from free to freemium (and therefore out of your budget), or drop service, we’re no longer teaching lifelong skills with lasting tools.
As time goes on, I find that I like settling into a handful of reliable tools because, like you, I’m too busy to learn a ton of new tools that are just variations on what already works for me. I keep track of new tech tools via Joyce Valenza’s blog, Richard Byrne’s FreeTech4Teachers.com, my Twitter feed, my grad students’ discoveries, and the AASL Best Websites and Best Apps for Teaching and Learning projects.
So … here are some favorites:
Connecting Students to Information
Google Scholar and Google Books tend to be underused in K-12, but each gives us a great way to connect kids to useful information, particularly with odd or unusual topics. Sometimes, Google Scholar can uncover a free web copy of something that otherwise we’d need a paid database to access. (This is because some academic journals have contract clauses that say that the author can post their article on their website, which Google can find.) Google Books is also great for previewing a few pages from a book before you buy it!
We use Google Hangouts (requires Google+ account) and/or Skype to connect with experts virtually. Human beings are great information sources that hold students’ interests regardless of age or developmental level.
I introduce my grad students to Twitter to help them identify and build a professional network, but I don’t know if it’s as important for K-12 students.
For older students, really take a hard look at NoodleTools.com for overall project management, from notecards to citations to outlines, with the ability of the instructional team to peek in and see how students are doing. There are real human beings doing tech support, too, so when you or your students get stuck, you can get friendly advice.
I also have a teacher account with Diigo.com that I use all the time to save/screenshot favorite websites. You can create groups, and whenever someone in your class/group saves a bookmark, they can opt to share it with the group, who can then save it to their account. Members of the group can comment about the items, too. I use it with my classes, my service learning group, and with groups of colleagues. If you’re in a 1:1 program, you can install a bookmarklet or app in your toolbar. Some people love Evernote.com for similar functionality but a different approach, plus the ability to take notes – I have a colleague who takes notes in meetings using Evernote and can then email them out to committee members right within the app, desktop software, or web page.
Speaking of toolbars, I’m a huge fan of OneTab, an extension for the Chrome browser. As we move more and more into 1:1, it’s a great time for us to think about how we use the Web and how our students might not know to organize things the way we do. OneTab is a Chrome extension that lets you close all your tabs at once and save a list of what they were. So if you (and/or your students are) like me, and you tend to open a dozen or more windows at a single sitting, and you’re about to share your screen with your class, just click the OneTab icon in your toolbar, and voila – they all close, and you’re left with one tab open that contains a list of clickable links to all those other pages. This is super helpful for things I’m working on, want a trail of, but haven’t decided if I need to save for sure yet.
I use wikis less than I used to now that our university is a Google Apps for Education school, as I now use Google Forms, Spreadsheets, or Docs (all available through Google Drive) to collaboratively share information. The ability to search for a keyword within a doc is really helpful for me, and a published and shared Google Doc creates an instant web page-on-the-fly. I often use Titanpad.com or other clones of the original Etherpad.com project when I need an instant wiki.
Shared Google Calendars can keep a group unified about timelines, shared deadlines, and more. Show students how they can adjust their settings so they get an email or text message reminder(s) at the intervals prior to the deadline they want. I’m also experimenting with GQueues, which, for a fee, helps you coordinate your to-do list with your calendar. And if you need to set office hours, audition slots, or other appointments, and you have a Google Apps for Education account, you can use your Google Calendar for that, too. You set up a link to your appointments, and when your students go to book a slot, they can see where their schedule aligns with your openings.
Engaging in Formative Assessment
How are kids doing in their research? I sometimes use tools like Polleverywhere.com, Google Forms (part of Google Drive), Padlet.com, on-the-fly audio recordings or videos (made by me or kids) to see how we’re doing and where students need more help. (That being said, I’m just as likely to use an index card or sticky note to save time!)
Sharing What They Know
This is the classic place where K-12 educators have invested ed tech energy, but it can also be an accidental time warp (as in, “Wait! Whatever happened to February? Oh yeah. We were making slideshows.”). So I am very cautious when I pick tech tools and very careful about how I scaffold assignments. I always want to be able to answer clearly, “Am I seeing the student’s thinking here, or the pizzazz of the software engineer? Am I reading between the lines and synthesizing things that aren’t there? Or is the student doing that?”
Clearly, slideshow presentations are here to stay. More and more, I like these to be short and sweet – like an Ignite talk. Asking students to compress their thinking can yield a more focused argument. To meet Common Core State Standards, we need to move beyond the initial temptation to just us slides as a series of episodic information. We need to help students create arguments and support them with evidence, so think about how you organize that. Also, things like employing Presentation Zen techniques, making slides the backdrop and not the content, and talking about aesthetics can raise the bar and make the student the center of the presentation.
This slide deck might not be the right tone or vocabulary for your students, but it’s a handy reference!
I love podcasting and have for some time, because I find that students concentrate and focus more than they do with videos. The constructivist, playful, and imaginative aspects of podcasting –- Make it a commercial! Make it a talk show! Make it an audio tour! Create a radio play! Add sound effects! Add music! – float my boat. Kids, obviously, love videos, but my experience is that they also tend to spend more time fooling around with one another, and I don’t find that the product is as “tight” as it could be, though adding a frame or scenario (e.g., using a green screen and doing video “reporting from the scene” of a historical or literary event) can bump things up.
I’m cautious about comics and animation software. Some students can absolutely nail their argument in a sixteen-panel comic; for others, it’s not a large enough canvas to capture their deeper thinking. Ditto something like GoAnimate.com – super-fun for announcements, but it requires some deep thinking about how to scaffold it to get deep content. And overscaffolding can turn those projects into something borrring.
Common Core is asking us to be more thoughtful in discipline-specific reading and writing, so sometimes, we need to teach students to read/write in the discipline, e.g., lab reports, literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, technical reports, etc. If a science teacher has students write up lab experiments using a meme generator, it’s cool for the moment, but it’s not building the fundamental skills most students will need to be “college or career ready.”
Often, a benchmark for selecting a tool comes down to whether or not we can achieve depth and thoughtful practice with it.
Selfishly, I also recommend the Information Explorer and Information Explorer Junior series of books, which talk with kids about information and digital literacy skills. Many teachers pull the end-of-chapter activities for use in their lesson plans. You can preview about ¾ of each book’s content online for free.
What about rubrics?
Library Media Connection and School Library Monthly are two important resources for librarians wanting sample lessons about inquiry and technology. SLM’s lesson plans include rubrics. It takes time, patience, and self-love to keep learning and then trying new skills, so a subscription to one or both of these will definitely help you take in the landscape over time.
Lesson plans on inquiry and technology are also available in Harada and Coatney’s Inquiry and the Common Core book, in Podcasting at School, in 21st-Century Learning in School Libraries, and in Navigating the Information Tsunami: Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core State Standards, K-5. Most of the books in this last list include rubrics and evaluations.
You could also play with Rubistar to see what rubrics have been made by other educators.
What about student-generated rubrics?
One of you asked about working with students to create rubrics. This kind of student engagement is great for motivation and helps them be accountable to one another. Of course, it takes time that you may not have.
If you want students to make useful rubrics, you really need to show them examples of great work (aka “exemplars” or “mentor texts”) so they know what kind of work you are looking for. (This is good practice in general!) That will help them draw out salient features about that specific genre that they might not have experienced previously. You can ask probing questions: “How do they make their argument?” “How do they heighten our interest in their video?” etc.
A meet-in-the-middle option is for you to create a list of the characteristics that must be present and allow students to weight each one according to how much they want it to be worth. I’ve done this with great success and I’ve done it with meh results.
Golly, this post has ballooned to almost 2000 words, so I’ll stop for now. More of your questions still to come!
Now, it’s your turn … what technologies are you using in your students’ projects?
Disclosure: I am a columnist for School Library Monthly, write for the Information Explorer and Information Explorer Junior series, wrote a chapter for the Inquiry and the Common Core book, edited 21st Century Learning in School Libraries and Navigating the Information Tsunami, authored Podcasting at School, and collaborate with some of the Noodle Tools folks on projects. While this may seem like self-promotion, the truth is that I write stuff that I think will benefit folks in the field. I try to write the books I wish I had in the field.
Howdy! This is the third in a series of posts to answer questions posed by participants at Saturday’s Hawaii Association of School Librarians conference. You guys are asking tough questions, so it’s taking me a bit longer than I would have liked to get to all the answers. So many are yet to come, so let’s get started!
If Common Core is the “what”, would you say inquiry is the “how”?
Sure! Some would say inquiry is both.
Wondering whether the SBAC will require the students to find/locate/access their own info. If the test provides the multiple sources, they’re really just testing the students’ ability to read and synthesize. Of course as a librarian, I would still teach them how to locate info because I believe it’s a skill they need. But for the teacher who is pressed for time…
Definitely, the existing performance task samples for Smarter Balanced focus on precisely this. But according to their own inventory, we haven’t seen the research tasks yet, so that’s a bit up in the air. Your pragmatic approach seems very realistic to me. A couple of thoughts …
1) I’m idealistic enough to believe that the intent of the standards was to improve teaching independent of testing. (I know. I just put myself in an ivory tower with a sentence like that.) And while past testing has gotten kids into college, it’s pretty clear they struggle to do good research once they get there. That’s why the highest number of job openings in librarianship are for academic library instruction at the college/university level. And I was always a rebellious teacher who felt like if she aimed high, kids would do better on the test than if she aimed to meet the standards.
2) CCSS comes right out and says doesn’t cover everything everybody needs to know – check out the intro to the English Language Standards (ELA) for language about that. So we’re doing students a disservice if we limit their learning to those areas.
3) I’m not sure location is our students’ biggest struggle, but I know they struggle with task selection, resource evaluation, and synthesis (see, for example, the research by Kuhlthau as well as the Project Information Literacy findings). If we aim for synthesis in our research projects, we kill two birds with one stone: we support teachers in meeting that expectation/test task, and we give students the real-world practice they need.
4) If you are a secondary teacher, be sure to look for words like “credibility” in the CSA ELA Standards … because that can’t happen unless we are doing real research with real sources.
But yeah, we’re in a world where pragmatism wins the day … I get it. I just don’t like it.
What websites or other resources can I go to to view sample lessons for grade 1 inquiry?
One of the difficulties about inquiry is that its very open-endedness makes it tough to write replicable lesson plans. But here are some books that have helped me establish a culture of student-centered learning. Not all are library-centric!
Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in Primary Grades
The chapter on conventions of non-fiction was always a hit with my first graders and, although not inquiry, gave them the skills to find nonfiction more engaging. Inquiry doesn’t mean abandoning basic skills … just going beyond them. And that means building up that prior knowledge first!
Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5
At first glance, this looks like a book about setting up a classroom that mirrors your instructional style, needs, and beliefs. But keep reading and check out the technique using folders!
Ladybugs, Tornadoes, and Swirling Galaxies
Brad Buhrow & Anne Garcia Upczak
Technically written about ESL classrooms, this book has great tips for making thinking visible, including thinking about informational text.
A Place of Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades
Georgia Heard & Jennifer McDonough
A lovely, read-in-one-sitting book about children and informational text. It will help you reframe your teaching to be more aware of students’ ideas.
Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms
Such a great resource for linking inquiry and writing to science investigations. Not all inquiry involves library research, and this book will help students generate, document, and reflect on their own research paths. This is inquiry with hands-on learning.
In addition, here are some books I’ve worked on that can help:
Navigating the Information Tsunami: Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core State Standards, K-5
ed. Kristin Fontichiaro
CCSS-compatible lessons that break down inquiry and other research projects into meaningful, manageable chunks.
21st-Century Learning in School Libraries
ed. Kristin Fontichiaro
Lots of articles and K-12 lesson plans pulled from past issues of School Library Monthly (formerly School Library Media Activities Monthly).
Story Starters and Science Notebooking: Developing Student Thinking Through Literacy and Inquiry
Sandy Buczynski and Kristin Fontichiaro
Builds on the work of Klentschy (above), using stories to set the stage for student inquiry. Student-designed experiments lead to new understandings that complete the story.
Why were you inspired to give each of us an “aha” memento?
For readers who weren’t at Saturday’s workshop, we set up a table with enough pins (shown below) for every attendee. When attendees had their aha moment (which I hope people will have, as professional learning is something I take pretty seriously), they could take a pin. Seeing others’ pins would give us a way of breaking the ice and initiating conversation. (As much as people think I’m extroverted, I am awkward making small talk, so this would help me as much as them.)
But that’s not how the project started. It was actually one of those classic spiraling-out-of-control moments. At first, I just wanted to try out the Anne Taintor kind of collage work technique; one of the downsides of organizing twice-a-week maker activities is that I spend more time organizing than making, and my fingers were getting twitchy! I found some public domain or Creative Commons images, some inspiring quotes about learning or libraries, added some snarky ones of my own … and as time went on, I started thinking about different sizes, techniques, sweet and snarky sayings, and the pile grew. Then I realized I had wayyy more than I needed for hostess gifts.
I thought back to a workshop I had attended years ago with the Memphis Arts Council. We had been given, in our conference bags, a button that literally said “aha!” and we were to put it on when we had our first lightbulb moment. By week’s end, everybody was wearing theirs, and it was a great icebreaker. Maybe I could use the pins for that … I’d only need a few more.
Then someone who couldn’t be there said, “Oh, I want to know what gave them the aha!” So we asked participants to scribble their thinking on a sticky note and leave it on the table when they took the pin. (We shared those in the middle of this blog post.)
It was a snowballing effort that got more fun as it went. And because I made so many, I had some trial-and-error, some that turned out better than others, some that were messier than others, and so I really got to figure out how to make them better. Kinda like inquiry, y’know?
Plus, thanks to Elizabeth’s idea, we had a record of what people were thinking of, which helped me know if I was creating a valuable experience for folks.
Nalani also collected end-of-workshop ahas, and those often concurred with the in-the-moment pins, but they didn’t always. (We shared those at the end of this blog post.)
Is your biography on your website?
It’s on my University of Michigan page, along with my CV.
Here’s a school profile of my work.
Our makerspace projects are discussed here.
That’s it for this round … more to come! Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Continuing from the previous post, here are some more questions from HASL participants, along with my thoughts about them. Comments and tips welcome in the comments!
Are we addressing special populations (mental, physical handicapped students) in Common Core standards?
Short answer: No. Sadly, this idea of special populations barely came up in the release of the standards. In early documentation, decisionmaking on differentiation was left to local implementation, though I could not find that original document after the site was redesigned.
You might find this CCSS document “Application to Students with Disabilities” illuminating.
Additionally, there is this vague paragraph on the CCSS Math home page:
The Standards set grade-specific standards but do not define the intervention methods or materials necessary to support students who are well below or well above grade-level expectations. It is also beyond the scope of the Standards to define the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners and for students with special needs. At the same time, all students must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post-school lives. The Standards should be read as allowing for the widest possible range of students to participate fully from the outset, along with appropriate accommodations to ensure maximum participation of students with special education needs. For example, for students with disabilities reading should allow for use of Braille, screen reader technology, or other assistive devices, while writing should include the use of a scribe, computer, or speech-to-text technology. In a similar vein, speaking and listening should be interpreted broadly to include sign language. No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety in abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom. However, the Standards do provide clear signposts along the way to the goal of college and career readiness for all students.
As you can see, these focus more on physical disabilities (e.g., blindness, deafness) that can be overcome by translation than on cognitive disabilities. Check the CCSS resources page for more possible avenues for answers.
Bottom line: CCSS acknowledges that modifications may be needed for gifted or struggling learners but doesn’t state what those modifications are. Check with your special ed teachers and administrators and ask what is in place in your state/district/building to support these learners. And fasten your seat belt: I predict turbulence ahead.
How often do you update your blog? Is this a cumbersome task?
I was the inaugural blogger for School Library Monthly and blogged there weekly for about five years (Professor Rebecca Morris is now SLM’s blogger). That got me into a rhythm. Even when I left that position because my time was becoming limited, I found that I missed it.
While I don’t always have time to keep up that pace now that I blog for myself, I still find it useful to “check in” with myself by blogging periodically, and I selfishly rely on my blog to remind me of what I was working on and thinking about over the course of a year.
For example, I notice that I blog a lot more when I’m between semesters, maybe because I’m processing ideas and issues in the field with my students and colleagues during that time?
I blog when I have something to write about that I think has usefulness beyond my own little corner of the world. Sometimes, I compose from scratch, and sometimes I respond to an important reading.
If I haven’t blogged in a while, it’s a chance to ask myself some questions about why:
- Have I been busy engaging with projects so that I’ve been busy doing but not reflecting? (Often the case.)
- Have I not been engaged and therefore have nothing to say? (Rarely.)
- Am I wrestling with myself about something that I’m not ready to share publicly? (A lot of the time.)
- Am I working on projects for which non-disclosure agreements or group trust dynamics preclude me from airing my thinking publicly? (Sometimes. Plus, I don’t like airing dirty laundry online.)
- Am I just being lazy? (Yeah, sometimes I’d rather just watch a marathon of House of Cards.)
I also take advantage of WordPress’s ability to schedule posts in advance. So if you have a school blog, it totally pays to pre-write posts for holidays, upcoming events, etc. That keeps your blog pretty fresh even if you wrote much of it in September. I’m saddened when I see someone’s blog URL in the signature line of their email and then realize their last post was in 2009. Currency matters for information professionals!
Hope that’s handy. Check the previous post for more questions, and stay tuned for the big questions … resources for learning more about inquiry is one big one!
At Saturday’s Hawaii Association of School Librarians’ conference, Nalani left a spot on the evaluation form for people to ask questions. Here’s my first stab at the first batch of questions. More will be coming soon! Please leave a comment or email me at font [at] umich [dot] edu if I can clarify anything further!
How does HCPS (Hawaii Content Performance Standards) compare with Common Core standards?
I’m not from Hawai’i, so I’ll direct you to this Hawaii DOE toolkit for ideas. How’s that for side-stepping the question?
How do you convince teachers and administrators to support this kind of open-ended inquiry?
No doubt about it, this kind of instructional shift takes time. Most of us didn’t go to school learning how to teach and learn in this way, so it can feel unwieldy and tricky.
The thing that’s worked best for me has been to ask for an extra 15 minutes in a research project and insert a little nudge. When I’ve done that, the students’ behavior has changed, and that motivates the teachers and administrators I’ve worked with to find space. It’s like the Stone Soup story or the Loaves and the Fishes … we educators are stingy with our time until we see what can happen. Then we “remember” that we could make a little more space for things.
If finding time during class is a struggle, try a lunchtime or extracurricular club. Generating student energy and excitement often translates to the classroom. Teachers and administrators are as weary as librarians are of the many demands placed on them, so when they see students responding positively to something, that gets their attention. They love it when kids are engaged … and seeing is believing. (Note: this works for makerspaces in schools, too!)
Next, you might consider putting some bumpers on that inquiry. Open-ended inquiry is great … the sky’s the limit! … but its very limitlessness can be disconcerting or downright chaotic. My editor once illuminated the hazards of open inquiry by saying, “Sure, if you put a bunch of kids in a room and ask them to rub items together, they might eventually discover static electricity, but it could take forever.” So sometimes putting frames around inquiry can help (or, in the case of static electricity, limiting the items for inquiry could help them make the discovery more efficiently). Instead, consider what Kuhlthau et al called Guided Inquiry (they have a couple of books on the topic … read this one first, then this design workbook).
Additionally, if you need a blunter instrument with which to broker conversations about inquiry with folks, look at the Smarter Balanced assessment documentation. Smarter Balanced will be the test instrument used for about half the CCSS-using states, including your state of Hawai’I and mine of Michigan. Take a look specifically the document entitled “Claims for the English Language Arts/Literacy Summative Assessment.” I’m pasting the text for the four claims below.
Claim #1 – Reading
“Students can read closely and analytically to comprehend a range of increasingly complex literary and informational texts.”
Claim #2 – Writing
“Students can produce effective and well-grounded writing for a range of purposes and audiences.”
Claim #3 – Speaking and Listening
“Students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences.”
Claim #4 – Research/Inquiry
“Students can engage in research and inquiry to investigate topics, and to analyze, integrate, and present information.” (emphasis added)
Sometimes, the adage of, “If it gets tested, it gets taught” is what gets folks’ attention. If the testmakers claim they will evaluate research and inquiry, it needs to be taught, right?
You mentioned a way teachers can find resources that have Lexiles so they can direct students appropriately. Where can I find this?
Many subscription databases will display the Lexile level – or other measure of reading difficulty – when it delivers search results. My state subscribes to many GaleCengage databases, so I know Gale’s databases do this.
The cool thing about Lexiling is that it helps teachers do something they’ve historically struggled with: match readers with content at a personalized level. So instead of fretting that their biology textbook is written at an unsuitable level, teachers can quickly find more suitable resources in a database. If you’re a teacher reading this, hightail it over to your librarian, who wants to help you make this huge connection to differentiated resources!
Additionally, since we know kids like Google but that many results aren’t custom-written for kids, you might find Google’s advanced search by reading level to be helpful. Check out this Free Technology For Teachers post for a quick introduction.
Do you use Follett Destiny in your research projects?
That’s a tough question. I had better luck pulling books or making pathfinders than spending much time having students do search in most grades. I used some Google Custom Search for grade 4. In grade 5, we talked about open web searching, Google News, constructing good Google searches, and skimming results. I left practice about four years ago, and if I were to go back into K-12, I would start this much earlier now than I did then. We’re just not doing kids any favors by not teaching them — from an early age — to use the number one search tool.
I had students for such a limited time that I wanted to focus on working through content instead of finding it. (Each of us learns to discern what our faculty and students need most.) So I didn’t use Follett Destiny as a formal portal to research projects very much. Plus, I inherited an outdated collection, so if I had multiple students interested in a topic, I couldn’t accommodate those resources in print – digital pathfinders could get me more bang for the buck. Also, I pretty much used Destiny to track equipment, print resources, and audio books instead of web-based resources.
At the time, it was a bifurcation that made sense to me, but that’s not the only way to go. Some people put both print and digital resources into their catalog. Take a look at Marcia Mardis’ WebMARC project as a way to integrate your curated digital resources into your Destiny or other catalog if that’s of interest.
Others buy the add-on that adds Destiny Quest to their Destiny account, which helps do federated search with your subscription databases and resources. That was something that was just being added to our account when I left K-12, so I can’t comment on it.
OK, that’s all the questions for today. (This week is spring break, after all!) What do you think? Do you have different approaches or strategies that are working for you? If so, leave a note in the comments, and stay tuned for more questions from HASL’s Saturday conference!
**Updated after the workshop to include your “Aha!” moments that you shared at the pin table at the bottom of the post**
***Updated again March 6 with your “Aha!” moments from the evaluations at the very very end of the post***
What a pleasure to be at Kamehameha School today to lead the Hawaii Association of School Librarians’ workshop about inquiry strategies in the Common Core era.
Some links for today:
- Morning slide deck
- Afternoon slide deck
- “A Yacht, a Mustache: How a President Hid His Tumor” story on NPR
- Download an extra postcard to send yourself!
Participants shared these “Aha!” moments. All are direct quotes, with commentary in brackets:
- (This) confirms that synthesis and personal sense making remain at the heart of learning!
- Does the information you’ve found help solve the problem? [A question you can ask students if you frame their research around a scenario or problem]
- It’s not about libraries; it’s about learning. [A direct quote from AASL President Gail Dickinson's opening remarks!]
- (If you replace the “I” in K-W-L with “what I think I know” instead of “what I know” – an idea from Sandy Buczynski, it leaves room for the possibility that) what I think I know … was wrong.
- “Guidelines shouldn’t hold us back.” [quoting Gail Dickinson]
- It is rejuvenating to mentor new teachers.
- (I) need to rethink how to approach student learning. I need to do more Connecting and Wondering!! [Connect = Stripling's prior knowledge phase; Wonder = Stripling's questioning phase]
- So much information. I need to learn a little at a time.
- Frame projects for relevance.
- I never thought about it, but you were absolutely right — in the beginning, children chat and talk, then it gets quiet, not because they are not engaged, it’s because they are thinking.
- Research based on materials by Lexile level — yes! [Some databases let you search for items by Lexile level, which can help teachers better customize texts to readers]
- See – Think – Wonder (is) a great way to get student sto use photos as an initiation for inquiry.
- No wonder the end products for research projects aren’t what they should be — we didn’t prep so well at the start!
- I don’t need to come up with a new project focus; I just need to reframe it.
- Reuse a (tech) tool (instead of introducing a new one for each project). It saves instructional time. [Hat tip to Buffy Hamilton, who clued me into her approach of finding a few hardworking tools she could reuse instead of new ones each time]
- (Experts) look at the bibliography first before reading the paper/project.
- That it’s okay to not do all the steps of inquiry – we can emphasize some of them!
- Start thinking about small additions to final research problems to make them relevant to students.
- Inquiry is about living in the muddy soup. [Adaptation of a quote from Chris Lehmann]
- Go beyond just looking for facts!
- Stripling’s Inquiry (Model) rocks. It’s a new discovery for me. Thanks.
- Keep building prior knowledge! Activate it; the students may have a whole different idea of something! I can’t ask good questions if I don’t know about it!
- How can we make learning relevant for our students beyond just facts? I learned how to revamp questions to provide deeper thinking and research. We read to connect to our world: past, present, and future.
- See-think-wonder, the pyramid of inquiry. Inquiring minds will want to know.
- New K-W-L [Buczynski's idea to convert the columns to "What I think I know" (leaves room for misconceptions), "What I wonder" (instead of what I want to know)]
- I came up with a new way to frame, with a question, a project I collaborate on with a teacher.
- I am a classroom teacher and I was hesitant because it was a “library” conference. BUT I got to see a different perspective about librarians and education.
AHA moments from the evaluations:
- That it is okay to use the same tech tools instead of trying new ones, because it saves on instructional time. [I learned this from Buffy Hamilton!]
- Reuse a tool–it saves instructional time. [Thanks, Buffy!]
- Love using primary sources, audio/visual, 3D objects ,etc., to tap prior thinking and begin inquiry. [Me, too!]
- Librarians play a big role in our students’ learning and success in CCSS ELA.
- Pre-searching is important for generating interest. Important to direct/frame searching.
- How librarians should support research and not limit the process for students who may go off on tangents when finding information. Ways to make these projects for meaningful for students, “flip history” projects, telling stories.
- Inquiry learning is a muddy soup (Chris Lehmann quote!). Students need adequate time for inquiry learning.
- I don’t need to redo my projects, just rethink how to approach my targets. Students now think differently, so I should, too.
- My library lessons should/could be TOTAL immersion in inquiry. [Keep in mind, though, that you can still teach the "understructure" of research ... they still need those basic skills ... they're just stepping stones, not the destination!]
- Inquiry can be confusing for our students, so using the Stripling Inquiry (Model) helps me devise my lessons to better guide the inquiry so it doesn’t become a muddy mess.
- Gotta keep working on getting teachers to make projects more student-centered. (Think) big picture.
- Reframe Problem Based Projects. Stripling Inquiry Model. More CONSTRUCT, less Express. Make “aha” buttons for next workshop. Give students time to share while researching.
- I need to have students do inquiry-based lessons because they are more exciting/interesting for the students.
- “CWICER” [my mnemonic to remember the Stripling Inquiry iterative ‘stages’] (is a) good reminder. (I had) lost focus about the initial prep work (that leads to) better endings.
- My “Aha’s” from today included the Inquiry:
- Inquiry as a base. This reaffirms what is happening in the classroom and confirms the basis of my teaching.
- Stripling’s Inquiry Model s a great guide for me to remember the steps of inquiry
- Loved learning how to make inquiry and research more meaningful for my students. The 3 examples were helpful.
- Stripling Inquiry Model
- Wonderful look at inquiry research–I loved the practical examples and hands on sessions.
- It’s not hard to connect the library to the classroom to the CCSS.
- Go back to the basics! Primary Resources!
- It’s ok to ask low level questions [KF adds: at the start!] to get the students with limited language to be participants
- Kristin clarified for me the direction I’ve been trying to head towards for our children in trying to listen & help them have their voice through her organized and clear presentation based on Stripling’s Inquiry Model, the many thought-provoking quotes, bringing us back to question what sparks us and how do we do the research. Many connections reinforcing inquiry in more valuable, meaningful ways trying to comprehend, investigate, eval. & analyze, integrate, synthesize … focused on the process and reflection, presenting backseat to the learning up to the final. Her exercise providing hands-on experience raised questions, provided sparks, highs & lows, all part of the process. Will take her messages: ‘evolution not revolution’, ‘nudging towards inquiry’ (our facilitating the students to learn/question), ‘living in the soup’ (being uncomfortable w/o all the answers, go for it)…’Inquiry isn’t linear. It’s iterative.’ Frame focus – project-based, problem-based, real-world situations.
- Think (about) the way to inspire the student to do their best on their research paper
- I really liked learning about the Stripling Inquiry Model and how Kristin shared some ideas on how I can incorporate it in my first grade classroom. I also like the “New” KWL.
- Research can be FUN! [YESSSSSSS!!!!]
- Some aha’s were how to better approach inquiry with students, and I plan on sharing the information I received with my teachers. (YAY! Keep me posted!)
- I don’t have to have an end product for every research unit and that parents should see the tools and processes their child used, not just the cleaned-up final products.
- I need to do a better job in getting students excited about research by connecting it to their own lives or community.
- Research projects can be inspirational and motivational when using a problem based construct approach that keeps interest high in order to solve the questions arising during discussions.
- I appreciated the entire information shared but my Aha would be the mind shift: the basic research could be tweaked (framing strategies) to engage students in pursuing knowledge that would fascinate them.
- How important and difficult forming questions can be, and that the time to search and discover is needed.
- Guide students to be responsible for their own learning.
- small changes can be made to existing research assignments to nudge students toward authentic inquiry
- allowing students time to explore and wonder before doing the actual research is vital for activating interest and giving students background info to create good questions
- That it is okay to use the same tech tools instead of trying new ones, because it saves on instructional time. [Thanks, Buffy! Look how much your idea resonated!]
- Frame the project for real life relevance.
- Inquiry means that we live in that uncomfortable place where we don’t know the answer. [Another appearance of the power of the Lehmann quote!] CWICER.
- Instead of trying to create completely new projects, I need to work with teachers to re-frame existing projects.
- In order to reduce the time needed to do inquiry, some of the “steps” can be skipped – example the express component. Starting with a good foundation of prior knowledge can lead to higher level/deeper questions. I do research similar to what I see students doing — starting with Google, getting easily sidetracked
- Exciting learning is noisy, full of people wanting to share what they just learned and walking around looking at what other have found. We got to remember when we try to “sh…..h our students in our libraries.
Wow, folks. It makes me shiver to hear this kind of learning going on. Keep me posted with what you try! Next up, I’ll start tackling your questions from the evaluations.
Yes, now there’s a whole new reason to show up for class: to see if your professor is intellectual enough to use one of a series of seven hand gestures collected by a pair of MFA grads.
You’ve definitely seen it at some point. Maybe it was in a lecture in college. Maybe it was in a TED talk you watched recently. Someone is trying to explain some important historical connection, drawing up a grand theory of art or science or human progress, and there it is, as if by reflex: the hand lifts in front of them like an upturned claw, the fingers slowly turning an invisible dial. That’s “The Dialectic,” one of the hand gestures you’ll need to master to become a genuine thought leader.
Alice May Williams and Jasmine Johnson observed “the full complement” of these gestures in the process of earning their MFA at Goldsmiths College in London. In an effort to bring them out of the rarified world of academia and into the lives of ordinary people, the duo created a handy instructional website: The Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion.
Throughout their courses, Williams and Johnson saw the gestures repeated so frequently that “it became hard not to notice them spreading from academics to students and back again,” they explain–a sort of vicious cycle of performative thinking. The more they looked, the more they saw. Elaborate, double-handed gestures were typically reserved for the leading academics that visited as part of the program’s lecture series. “The Dialectic” proved to be especially popular with all ranks of thinkers. It’s “an unconscious twitch that says ‘take me seriously,’” say Williams and Johnson.
Having just done an in-class activity on gullibility in our online reading, it’s tempting to see their academic work as performance art in and of itself. (I checked: the MFA credential seems legit — but it is this serious ethnography? Social commentary? Tongue-in-cheek art? Who gets an MFA by watching hand gestures? the brain naturally queries.)
But if you visit the duo’s Tumblr and see the animated GIFs of their hand-gesture library, some of the hand jives are so instantly recognizable that you suddenly don’t care if it’s true or not. It’s just funny how on-target some are (making the ones you don’t recognize even funnier).
So whether you enjoy the Tumblr for fun or for serious intellectual reflection, I’m off to practice The Dialectic.
Canva.com, a new, mostly-free graphic design tool designed for those of us whose yearning to make great design exceeds are ability, is exploding in popularity in my classes this term. The students’ work looks great, and they all say how easy it is!
Check out this video.
When we first started searching the web with kids, spelling was an enormous barrier. Google has done a lot to mitigate that problem, gently offering us (and even acting on) alternative spellings. But check out this tip from Andy Plemmons on the Barrow Media Center blog a few weeks ago:
Before students came, I installed the Google Voice Hotword Search extension in Chrome. This allowed us to control a Google search with our voice. For Kindergarten students who aren’t fluent in typing, this lifted a big search barrier for them. We took our list of questions and took turns saying:
- “OK Google”
- When is the Chinese New Year?
Google searched and spoke to us telling us that this year Chinese New Year begins on January 31st. We continued this process to answer many of our questions.
Really cool. While Siri can help on iOS devices, and there are voice-command Google searches for smartphones and tablets, this nifty feature can remove a lot of barriers from those with vision impairments, emergent reading skills, and more. I didn’t find that Google could read aloud all of the answers, so it would be interesting to pair Andy’s discovery with teaching them how to highlight text and have the computer read it aloud to them (built into Macs, and free tools available for PC).
Oh, and this brings me to another point: when are more school districts going to open up browser choices beyond Safari or Explorer? There are so many student-friendly tools available as installable extensions on Firefox and Chrome that many students are missing out on.
PS – This extension is marked as being in beta. Your mileage may vary.
Love this blog post from TeachingPreschool.org about turning used holiday wrapping paper tubes into elaborate marble tunnels! Great preschool classrooms inspire me to think about great learning for kids, both in and out of school.