Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Differentiation, Connections and First Day High

Reflection. Make it a lifestyle!
It was our first day back from summer in-service.

School has finally begun.

The kids are back and we're rolling! I was pretty pleased at myself yesterday having conducted four different activities during library orientation with our students. Yes, I had four presentations, one per grade level.

For grade 9 I did a Library 101 talk. I first read aloud a short excerpt from Shine (Gourlay, 2014) and stopped at the part where Rosa's yaya asked what would happen if she ever stopped wondering. From there, I told the 9s how the library plays a part in this wonderment and that libraries nurture in them a sense of wonder. With my staff, we distributed the library brochures, read the basic library rule on borrowing resources, distributed bookmarks that have usernames and passwords of our online databases, and told them about the Book Quota. More about this in the next post.

It was the same with the grade 10s, 11s and 12s. But, I started out with a school project that they will tackle this year. Projects that involve reading, research and an application of information literacy skills. For the 10s, I started with the Personal Project and showed my former supervisee's project. For the 11s and the 12s, I began with the Extended Essay and a perspective of what research is all about in the high school level. Always emphasizing that reading is a core skill in research writing, and that the library is a place to develop this.

Connection. The library is part and parcel of the learning community
In the words of my colleague, what I did during library orientation was differentiation. I realized that a 15 minute library orientation would be more meaningful if I immediately present the most important thing our high school students must know.  Each grade level has a specific need and context. Having planned the theme on research and information literacy, I used these as basic concepts to work around my presentations.

I was happy.

Using differentiation as a strategy and working around a concept to guide me in facilitating the library orientation are two things I learned from the Academy's regular professional development activities. My co-teachers have been working real well on conceptual teaching. Last summer they allotted a week to put together their course units in concepts. What followed was a week long unit plan writing that prompted us to look at connections. Knowledge and ideas cross disciplines. Skills permeate the content areas. To prove these points further, our Dean of Faculty presented Bill Gates' the Big History Project. Again, more on this in future posts.

How do I find myself in this exciting and changing dynamic of teaching and learning?

Learn. Reading aloud to high school students. It still works!
It is an opportunity to offer content through the library's varied resources and rich collection of fiction and non-fiction books. I see ways where I can assist and support teachers by engaging them in conversations that foster thinking and collaboration. In library parlance, this is called reference and readers services. I will look at the Information Literacy Skills program designed three years ago. Oh boy, it does need a lot of revision. It needs a new fitting to address a global framework. While services and existing library structures remain, it must be anchored on a paradigm and a mindset that promote connectivity, reflection and active learning.

Who ever said being a librarian is boring?

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