My great serendipity on Saturday was selecting three sessions that linked in interesting ways to get me thinking hard about how to collaborate better with teachers and introduce more elements of guided inquiry into my practice.
I started the day with David Loertscher, who shaped my initial ideas about the possibilities of a school library and continues to do so. His most recent research, conducted with a professor at the Uof Toronto, demonstrates an astonishing increase in student learning when teachers and librarians collaborate and co-teach. Carol Gordon presented in the afternoon, and confirmed Loertscher’s by showing some exciting work going on when a librarian working in collaboration with a teacher in New Jersey got exponentially better results than she’d had the year before when she taught research projects alone in a weekly fixed schedule.
Loertscher and Gordon both explained that after FIFTY years, it was clear that fixed schedule elementary programs were unlikely to go away. So they are now looking at a “fixed and” model as Loertscher put it. They both had an interesting take on how to solve the problem.
Loertscher recommended employing robust MakerSpaces during fixed sessions with classes. He showed examples of both traditional MakerSpaces stocked with legos, MakeyMakey, little bits, etc. and (I LOVED THIS) virtual MakerSpaces with links to tools such as Google Draw that allowed kids to create in an open-ended environment. Once this is set up and kids are taught to come in and engage and work independently with these models, a second class could be using the library for research AND THE LIBRARIAN HAS FREED UP TIME TO CO-TEACH! Interesting idea with some caveats around management—but definitely worth thinking about. Notes are here.
Gordon’s approach (which she’s just done beautifully with a teacher and librarian and has a great project to show) involves taking a teacher-library team and having them work in an asynchronous fashion on a joint project using a tool such as Edmoto (and Google docs/folders would work) to share materials and information about progress on projects. Gordon’s idea is that the librarian basically works to coach the teacher on the research process and helps with materials selection. The teacher then works to roll out research between library visits, and when students go for weekly “library time” they do more research with the librarian. The teacher also helps the librarian gain knowledge of content and content-directed questions. Using Edmoto and a clear and flexible calendar, her team seamlessly collaborated and discussed student work, looked to roll out new learning with responsibility assigned to teacher or librarian (depending on who was where when) and the result was a beautiful project on the Civil War done with a true guided imagery approach. My notes are here.
To round things out, Laura D’Elia, Jenny Lussier, and Melissa Stewart all provided insight into aspects of adding more guided inquiry elements into teaching, including:
· Preparing very young students for research with I wonder moments, ability to do exploration with realia and books, and open-ended discussions—Jenny does this very well
· Looking carefully at wordless books and books with minimal text to get students to notice details and examine visual images carefully (Melissa Stewart has great practical suggestions—my notes are here)
· Setting up a standardized guided inquiry online toolbox for students with the research steps carefully identified and explained and links to places where students can save work for each step of the process.