Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

Research Packets: MLA and APA Citation Guides
Understanding the teacher's unit plan or lesson plan helps me identify areas for information literacy skills integration. When I read the unit plan of my co-teacher, I had a clearer understanding of her learning objectives, target work study and research skills (for this instance IB calls it ATL - approaches to learning), the coverage of the concepts and skills to be learned, as well as the context of students. As I wrote in a previous blog post, our grade 9 students are gearing up for the Personal Project. The English unit plan tackles on skills in finding topics for PP, thus, the need to know basic search strategies (Boolean), note taking, bibliography and citations.

Using the unit plan, I wrote down the specific skills I can facilitate. I then met with the English teacher to establish connections and clarify scope of topics I would cover during the 30 minute library session. I made a lot of discoveries: tips and tricks to search sources in Google; worksheets that are appropriate for the students; additional sources for citation guides. I recalled past Information Literacy skills activities I had and there I found basic concepts on search strategies that helped me improve my plan. I reviewed the search functionality of our database subscriptions.

Wolfram Alpha Computes Knowledge for You
 Apparently, the English teacher and I were looking for ways to break apart a cognitive activity and repack it in a way that is easier to grasp and use. We both know that we are teaching thinking skills -- critical and creative thinking. And so, I sent her samples of worksheets I found online as well as suggestions in helping students understand their own process when conducting research at its initial stage. I shared with her search engines I found that show numeric data (Wolfram Alpha, well, it's not a search engine, really) and semantic map (InstaGrok). I suggested that students create a visual map of the task. Mapping one's thoughts help in visualizing thinking and seeing the process at work. I like visual maps and mind maps because both are techniques to metacognition.

In research, and in teaching Information Literacy, it is important for students to know where they are in the process, how they plan to meet goals and answer their research questions, and find ways to overcome road blocks. More importantly, they need to be assured that they have companions in their research.

On the day of the session, the grade 9s, eager beavers they are, were able to use the search strategies taught to them. They used the library OPAC, Googled for internet sources and, because they have bibliographic note cards, located information with in sources. It was a productive session, in general. After a week or so, students come to the library to complete the note taking task that the English teacher gave them. As a summative, they made a visual map or a mind map of their initial journey in researching for topics for their PP.

My new favorite search engine is InstaGrok!

I still have to get back to the English teacher as well as the PP Coordinator, because, I am interested to see how the students arrived at choosing a topic. So, yeah... more about research and IL posts in the future!

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