Saturday, May 6, 2017

Teacher and School Librarian Collaboration: Search Strategies for Grade 9 (1 of 2)

Print sources, primary and secondary
Early in April, our grade 9 English teacher requested for a library session on search strategies and information sources. The timing couldn't have been any better since this batch of grade 9 students are preparing for the Personal Project that will start early in the first term of academic year 2017-2018.

The Personal Project is an interest based project that students in 10th grade are expected to finish to cap off their learning in the Middle Years Program. The project may take the form of a website about ADHD or cancer awareness, a livelihood program of Macrame products, a self designed fitness program, a compilation of songs composed and sung, a prototype of a drip system for a hydroponic garden, a self-help book on surviving high school life, a notebook made from recycled paper to be sold as fund raiser for a favorite charity. The list is endless and the only limitation is the student's creativity and imagination. Parameters are set, of course, and this is where the IB guides come in.

That is another story. Back to the library lesson.

Since the context has been laid down, I intended to extend the lesson beyond the Personal Project by introducing the basics, at the same time, open windows of possibilities.

What students get from the library session must be something they can use in other tasks and can be translated into skills that will further help them fashion sophisticated ways and processes of thinking. For example, learning about Boolean search strategies can lead to critical and creative thinking especially in the use of words. From simple key words, students can scale up to use synonyms for their search terms, and eventually develop a built-in, internal thesaurus. As a librarian, I may be giving them a session on searching online databases and search engines, but with constant use -- and consistency -- students, in time, can grow a vocabulary that they can use according to a subject matter; a vocabulary they can use to search for answers and derive meaning from a variety of media and technology.

Search Tips ala-Google
A basic knowledge of the most popular search engine in town, Google, can lead to an exploration of other search engines that present data in numbers, graphics and semantic web. Search engines crawl for websites, images, videos, PDFs, slides and databases based on key words used. Knowing different search engines and what information it can give back is another strategy that can grow into skills in selection and location on the appropriate use of technology.

What would make this possible is the regular team teaching effort and initiative between teacher and the school librarian. If this is impossible, at least, an intervention of the school librarian to remind teachers on the use of strategies in searching for information online or in print environments need to happen. The intervention can be done through announcements, meetings, in-service training, information campaigns in physical and virtual spaces of the library that are accessible to the members of the learning community. That is why, a matrix or a manual of research skills is essential. More on this in another post.

So where did I begin?

I asked for a copy of the English teacher's unit plan. And boy, did I learn lots along the way as well!~

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