Repackaging the Daunting Research Project: Ideas from AASL 2017
By Laura Guest
How many of your students jump up and down yelling “Yippie” when you tell them they are going to write a research paper? Would many of them have a different reaction if you reworded it from ‘write a research paper’ to ‘create a nonfiction book’? After attending Innovative Activities for Teaching Nonfiction Reading and Writing by author Melissa Stewart, I realized a research paper IS a non-fiction book!
We often teach text features such as a table of contents, glossary, index, and labels on a photograph or diagram to our youngest students (I start in kindergarten). My first graders practice identifying images of each of the above, they answer questions after looking at each of the above and write labels on a diagram. One of Melissa’s suggestions was to read a picture book a day and have students draw an image from the book and label it to demonstrate their understanding. So simple; it is something I can add to my lesson plans instantly.
In the past, I have had my first graders read two books about an animal, take notes and merge the information to create one page in a class animal book. Their paragraph is below an illustration of their animal. This year I will add a map of the world so they can color and label where their animals lives. I will have students in my sixth grade classes locate copyright free images for the first graders to use for labeling the parts of their animal. In order for students to authentically practice the text features, I will have them create a glossary entry using a word from their page. They will use a marker to trace over the word; creating a bolded word. They will group their animals into categories and help name the chapters such as hoofed animals, animals of the sea etc. Third grade CCSS include “3.RI.5 Use text features and search tools to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently” as well as “3.W.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.” This would be the perfect place to collaborate with the classroom teacher to change the research project from a paper to a nonfiction book. Students can access books and electronic information for note taking during library and learn about proper citations. After the “paper” is written in class, it can be
broken into chapters. Students can create illustrations, maps, diagrams to further explain their text and then create the table of contents, a glossary and an index! I think this change will help it to be a more memorable assignment and a more permanent part of the student.
IDEAS FROM AASL 2017
By Laura Guest
Who has time for a makerspace? Our school district has joined a national push for school libraries to offer maker space experiences for our students. I see each class for 30 minutes per week which includes checkout. I’ve already switched to an every-other-week checkout for grades 4th-6th grade because there are 32 students in several of the classes making it mathematically impossible to teach a lesson, browse and check out!
Maker Space excitement abounded at AASL 2017. Several of the Idea Lab tables were about Maker Spaces, the exhibit hall, and several sessions throughout the conference. Diana Maliszewski and Melanie Mulcaster presented Maker Space your Literacy Program; their slides are available at http://Http://bit.ly/2fs7XMP. One of the key points from this session was “The richness of making lies in the ability of all learners to share their thinking processes in the attempt to make sense, re-assess, evaluate and confirm the world around them. We must make the time to document, share, and reflect on student learning in order to drive future instruction.” It is the first time I could find justification for a maker space and defend that it is not just a place for kids to play because they didn’t get to play in kindergarten. Free play and socializing seems to elude kindergarten classrooms as they are too busy trying to learning to read and work their way through math, social studies and science curriculum.
Besides learning to work with others and talk about how and why they want to “do it” a certain way, maker spaces can be tied to curriculum. I purchased circuits to complement our 4th grade science unit and items such as K’Nex, Legos, Strawbees to support the 6th grade Structures unit. And to tie it directly to the library curriculum students can demonstrate understanding of a book I read. For example, after reading The Night Gardner students created animals using paper, legos and computers. Kerry Roche Ferguson posted on Facebook “After reading Jabari Jumps, I had students construct their own high diving boards using Legos, Lincoln Logs, blocks and K’nex.” Almost any event could include a written piece even if just a reflection on their experience. One of their slides has nine points of reflection (what did you discover about yourself today? What else do you wonder? How did you share or document your learning? Etc.
Diana Rendina presentation on How to Reimagine Your Library Space and Transform Student Learning will help with the physical space—how to make room when there is no more room! She has a wealth of information on her website http://dianarendinapresents.wikispaces.com and has written a book on the same topic.
Where will I fit it in? I will start by surveying my teachers to see who still has “fun Friday” or “fee choice” times during the school day. I would like to offer the library maker space as a place students could spend their time. I would give teachers so many passes and they could choose students to come to the library. Some of the activities such as the Hue Animation Studio and the Dash & Ozobot robots would need more time to explore and create a project. I hope to use a recess plus model where the students uses their 20 minute recess and 10-20 minutes of class to work in the maker space. I will also look into a before school camp where students come for 3 or 4 days in a row to work with the more complex choices.
By David Adkins-Brown
Over the course of the last few years I have repeatedly seen a conversation crop up on the issue of genrefication in libraries. The common effects I have seen on circulation numbers for libraries that do genrefy demonstrate the possibility of a 7000 item increases within a year of activity (Check out these number here). However, two points are missing in the conversation around genrefication: what are best practices when genrefying a collection and why are these steps important.
1. If you are in a school library, then take the summer to genrefy the library
The feedback from several school librarians is that anywhere from three to four months is the average amount of time needed to genrefy their libraries. This makes summer the perfect time for such a project. When you go to present your proposal to the principal, state that the average school library should only take a season to genrefy with the help of students.
2. Figure out the subject headings for each genre section
This might seem like the easy part for a lot of people, but in the end many people have a very difficult time with this. There are a couple reasons for this:
Ontology: Listen, I wish I could make this easier for you, but welcome to the world of cataloging. You can get into all the arguments of what sorts of fantasy there are and the subtle differences between high fantasy and light fantasy, but let’s be real about this: Do your users care all the time or can they figure it out on their own? Keep it simple. You might just want to use the terms your patrons are using.
School District or Federated Catalogs: You might want to consult with your school district or the main branch. If the head cataloger tells you there is already a list of approved subject headings, then I would suggest keeping with the approved list. One reason for this is that the hard work of arguing subject headings has already been done for you. It might also be that the list of approved subject headings is going to be used in other cataloging that most front line librarians are not going to have to deal with (take a look at this from a cataloger’s POV). Remember, you are probably working with a team of library professionals (I’ll skip the para vs. professional talk here). Show them respect for the work they have already done. If you do happen to disagree with a subject heading or want to use another one, talk to your catalogers and see if you can add one or argue for a replacement.
BISAC: BISAC stands for the Book Industry Standards and Communications. This is the subject heading system used in book stores and generally prevalent in the publishing industry. In the past I have had conversations with librarians about the idea of using BISAC. This is a great idea, but keep in mind there is also a cost associated with downloading and incorporating BISAC list into your LIS.
3. Put those students and parents to work
The library is more than a reading room; it is a community learning space. Take the people you have and put them to work in creating their library. This will be a learning experience for everyone since many students may not know what genres are, much less understand how to differentiate them. The same goes for parents, teachers, and principals.
Side note on recruiting the principal: We all know that school principals usually have no idea what a librarian does, but genrefication and shelving projects have been my one way to demonstrate the complexity of what librarians do. I once had a principal and group of volunteers come help me shelve, alphabetize, and shift an entire library over a week. It was during this activity the principal turned to me and said, “This really requires three dimensional thinking. I didn’t know it was so complex.” After this she consulted with me more on a multitude of school activities, both in and out of the library. Gaining hands-on administrative support will help other school staff members begin to fully understand and appreciate what it is you do as the librarian.
4. Your biggest expense is always going to be labels and tape
This is not really based on some big study, but after I built a school library as well as spoke with other people, the one thing everyone had to run for at one point or another was tape and labels. Plan ahead and don’t skimp. You’ll need it, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to tell your users it will take another week or two because you have to wait for those very specific labels.
5. Keep track of your circulation numbers from before and after
While many people may see their circulation numbers as merely End of Year report fodder, it is wise for us to remember these statistics can be pulled up at almost any point in the year for things like reports, to administration, and grant writing. Keep those numbers handy if you want to argue for increased library funds form the school district.
And finally…While the study of genrefication and the impact it has on circulation and library usage continues, additional best practices for the creation and maintenance of genrefied libraries will emerge. I hope this post leads to deeper discussion on what you can do and how to branch out on your programming as a whole.
For more information on genrefication, click here.
“Here is a list of the five best practices to take when genrefying a library and why these steps are important:”
Library, genrefication, genrefy, genrefied, school library, circulation
REFERENCES AND LINKS
The Things I Will Do in the Name of Research - Virtual Reality
by Sheryl Wittig
When attending a conference, participants are advised to visit the exhibit hall, see what the vendors have to offer, ask questions, touch items that are usually viewed only in glossy catalogs, and if your timing is just right, bring home stacks of free books vendors didn’t want to pack up and ship home.
Being dutiful to the task, I stopped by the Lifeliqe booth and tried out their wares. More like a buzzard circling a tasty meal in waiting, I actually kept circling around this booth until their gear was up and ready to go. I’ve had a taste of virtual reality (VR) with my Poppy 3D camera/viewer, but never the full meal deal. And then I put on the Vive headset and things got real. Virtually real, easy enough to suspend reality and explore the International Space Station real. And I was hooked.
I pulled my librarian buddies in and they in turn wandered around with dinosaurs (complete with the “OMG” running commentary I shared with the entire exhibit hall) and swam with a shark kind enough to make some body parts transparent for closer examination. Wow! What an experience.
I wondered what this tool could do for my students. I noted that the recommended usage was for ages ten and up. Well, my oldest students, fifth graders, are ten….
As soon as I was home in Alaska, I was online shopping for those same VR glasses. Apparently, there are two main platforms in the high end VR world for PCs. HTC Vive is one of them. They work with PCs, and are supported with software available at their VivePort website as well as Steam (an online gaming platform my own children use). The other choice is Oculus Rift. XBox also offers VR, but I thought the PC platform would offer the broadest choice of software, and hopes of the eventual expansion to the Apple OS. There are other choices as well, and if you wanted to do some research, you could compare them, but I was so satisfied with my Vive experience that the fact that it was also the most expensive option didn’t seem to phase me.
Thanks to Amazon Prime, a big box arrived on my doorstep less than a week later. I rightly suspected that this was just the beginning of things we would need to replicate my experience in the exhibit hall. The high end computers in my home are Macs, and currently do not support VR. So the low end but new-this-year PC laptop had the honors of hosting the VR software and gear.
We could get some of the programs to work, like Google Earth, but the refresh rates were nauseating. Literally. While the standard refresh rate for video is 30 frames per second, to convince your brain, VR needs refresh rates of at least 90 frames per second! The difference becomes more obvious when you move your head and the images can’t keep up. It didn’t take us long to realize that, like in the movie Jaws, we were going to need a bigger boat.
So, in the interest of research - remember those fifth graders who were waiting to see if I could figure out if this was a viable school experience - I started to look for a computer that could do the job without bankrupting my family. Guess what? Really fast processors and high end graphics cards are expensive! I was shooting for the sweet spot - lots of power and speed but before the price point started leaping by thousands of dollars! Black Friday sales helped. I was hoping for a laptop (so I could easily take all the gear to school), but wasn’t willing to shell out an extra $600 for that mobility. Ended up ordering a Dell Alienware Aurora R6 Base with a GTX 1080 graphic card.
Knowing that a proper, powerful computer was headed our way, demand for the underpowered, nausea inducing setup dwindled. There was a little buzz when the optional Vive Deluxe Audio Strap arrived. It should be a standard item, since it helps balance the weight between the front and back of the headset, has one knob for easy fitting adjustments for everyone, and smart built-in headphones. But we were really waiting for a proper server.
The server arrived last week. We’ve been downloading a wide assortment of apps. Some work well with this medium, others less so. Google Earth VR is still the killer app. Much like the computer version, but so much easier to move about in. With remotes in each hand, there is no real ability to type, so it tests your geographic knowledge and skills. You only see labels when you flip to map (vertical rather than horizontal) mode. You also have the choice of operating in a comfort zone, where your field of vision is narrower. The more realistic, but potentially more nauseating mode allows the scenery to go zipping by in your peripheral view.
Also in the realm of what I had in mind for my library: Everest VR. The best feature of VR is having a true sense of scale, and that works perfectly on Everest VR. Similar to Google Earth, this app allow you to wander around Mount Everest. It includes various climbing routes, audio of sherpas, information on the physical effects of climbing at extreme altitude and more. And to keep everything in perspective, you can see tiny animated climbers working their way up the mountain. I was exhausted hopping from point to point along the various routes, and enjoying the view from every nearby peak.
Other museum ready apps, like the Nikola Tesla Experience, Lifelique’s VR Museum, and Earthlight: Spacewalk have great potential in a school setting. And then there are the apps less applicable in a school setting. Arcade games are very realistic (complete with sore muscles from shooting too many hoops and arrows!). Roller coaster and hand gliding experiences are still somewhat nauseating, since your brain is receiving messages that the body is moving, but there are no accompanying G-Forces.
VR is an immersive experience. Once you have your glasses and headphones on, it’s easy to filter out the rest of the world. I could barely hear the phone ring, or my kids complaining about their chores - for better or worse. There are slight annoyances: the system is tethered with a cable from the computer to the headset. If you have a tendency to rotate in the same direction, you can get tangled up, yet not able to see your legs. The resolution is not tight like the latest iPhone, but the quick refresh makes up for that - sort of. And because you are sharing this tool with family or an entire school, there is the consideration of all those different faces rubbing up against the padding on the headset...
The VR experience is very cool, nauseating, expensive, and personal. Could I justify such an expense for my elementary school library? In a secondary school situation, if there were a strong curricular tie-in and the resources to purchase it, it could be a great supplement. I could see many students benefiting from interactive, scalable 3-D models in science. But in an elementary school, I suppose if one were very careful about the apps and time students were exposed to, that would lessen potential unwanted physical reaction. I know many of my students would be nauseated, but would still want to extend their time with the VR headset. I didn’t see many apps - so far - that were closely tied to my district’s elementary curriculum. The logistics of scheduling 5-20 minutes per student would be cumbersome but worthwhile - only if you had the app that was the perfect supplement to the curriculum.
I don’t think I could justify spending half of this year’s annual library budget on VR. It was a worthwhile experiment, and now my family has a pretty spiffy, and early, Christmas present.
Green Screens—A Way for Students to Share Their Knowledge: Ideas from AASL 2017
By Laura Guest
I still struggle to find ways for students to share what they’ve learned besides the infamous research paper (yes, it has a time and a place). Though I’ve never had a student beg me to post their paper online, I am sure students will want to share their green screen projects. After much professional reading and a successful Donor’s Choose grant “Put the ‘A’ in STEaM” I came up with a way for students to create book reviews, curriculum talks and skits written by the students without their faces in the video! Students will be able to create simple pictures on a stick (copyright free of course) or make puppets to use with a Green Screen allowing it to be posted on our school Facebook page and YouTube. Motivation to do their best? Authentic evaluation?
I stopped by the Idea Lab table on Green Screening—Who, What, Why & How? presented by Jane Lofton, Michelle Luhtala and Deborah Schiano to get more specifics on how to actually make it work in my library. Their presentation can be seen at http://bit.ly/aaslgreenscreenslides. They also have directions to “try it out today” in a Google Doc bit.ly/aaslgreenscreen
Possible projects could include:
When choosing to share information with teachers I try to keep two thoughts in mind:
(click below to read the entire article by Erika Drain, LMS, Mt. Edgcumbe HS)