ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

Teaching Journal April 1, 2010

Filed under: teaching journal — ellie @ 12:22 am

Plenty to learn from today because there were plenty of mistakes.

This was a Developmental Reading class.

I completely forgot to set up the evaluate me part, probably because I knew the teacher only wanted me to take 15-20 minutes to show the catalog, library resources, and evaluating websites. I do website evaluation least of any topic, and when I do cover it, it’s usually completely in context of assignments that students have already chosen. I needed to prep much better to have a specific plan on what I was going to say. I can wing website evaluation of a realistic topic that students would be researching. I apparently cannot wing website evaluation of random non-academic topic that could be of personal interest. It doesn’t help that I didn’t ask the class for a topic. At that point I already felt I had lost them so badly I wanted to rush on to the part where they just started doing the assignment.

The teacher was using an assignment that we have for those classes. An assignment I had always thought was beyond terrible. But now that I’ve seen it in action, I get it. The assignment is only slightly about library resources. It’s mostly about reading and following directions. Something these students do NOT take to natually. I really had to suppress my helpful instincts and make them read the sheet and see if they could answer their own questions before adding any tips.

It had them look up an encyclopedia in the catalog, write down the call number, find it, use the index. Look up a dictionary, write down the call number, find it, find a specific aspect of a specific entry. Then go to a specific website and take a quiz.

It definitely gave me a whole new perspective on this assignment. As a reading comprehension assignment it could still use some work, but it’s suddently amazingly better than I had given it credit for. These students needed the practice of reading and following directions and their teacher wanted them to have the experience of visiting the library and meeting a librarian to help lessen their anxiety when they have to do it for real. Very cool.

I also didn’t have the assignment ahead of time. It was up on the library website when I talked to the teacher, but the day of, it was down. And of course I didn’t go looking for it until an hour before the presentation, at which point the document’s creator and the webmaster had both gone home for the day. Note to self – prep further ahead.

While my talking at the beginning part was fairly terrible, once we started doing the assignment it went fine and I was able to help a number of the students individually (most often by pointing to where they needed to read, but still…) and had a much better rapport with them. I was more thrown off than I would have expected by a couple of the large surly male students glaring at me as they reluctantly paid half attention.

I also think it’s another case where I needed to just slow down overall. Even just my talking, but especially my clicking and typing.

Last lesson – as much as I prefer getting into the critical thinking, this one really needed to be a first you click here, then you click there type session. Sometimes that’s OK.


Teaching Journal March 11, 2010

Filed under: teaching journal — ellie @ 11:39 pm

This was a Comp 1 class and they all had topics. Right there, that’s makes a class go so much better. I had met with the teacher ahead of time and limited what I would cover to: (1) Introduction to library databases, (2) Evaluation of websites, and (3) Difference between scholarly and popular information.

I used a handout that I have used before, but need to modify (need to add space for the who would care exercise). I started with the intro schpiel about the library and moved on to my think/pair/share about keywords and then about who would care about their information. Both went well.

I did a lot better monitoring my time this go round and we got sidetracked talking citations, but many students listed that as the most helpful thing on their evals, so I’m glad I took the time.

I should have been set up a little earlier, but overall, this was a great class.

I need to familiarize myself with our research guides better, so I would have been prepared to explain how the Biology one was set up a little differently than some of the others.

I also need to remember to count the students for stats.


Teaching Journal February 5, 2010

Filed under: teaching journal — ellie @ 11:01 pm

I made a note-to-self at a recent staff development day to “reflect after class sessions to see and think about what worked.”

I was just typing it up in a google doc and decided to post it here instead.

This was a Human Development course – Transition to College Success

from the course description:

This is a developmental level course designed for entering freshmen with priority needs. It provides an overview of key aspects, knowledge, and skills needed in the transition to college life. Students identify their educational goals, personal strengths, and areas for development; become familiar with college resources and services; and briefly explore strategies for academic success such as time management and study skills. Course formerly called Orientation.

This course is not for college-level credit.

This particular section was focusing on basic math and the teacher had given them an extra credit assignment to find two articles about overcoming math anxiety and then share two things they learned with the class.

I started the class with the basic hello, welcome to the library, hours, printing, checkout, contact overview. I had a handout at each of their laptops and asked them to pull up the survey I was going to ask them to fill out at the end so they could be thinking about it as we went along. This was a stumbling block – a few of the students were unable to enter the tinyurl without errors and then unable to troubleshoot to see that spelling errors were what was causing the problem. I helped a few, but eventually decided to move on and said I would come back to help those who hadn’t gotten to the page, but that I was going to ask them to tell me what was most helpful and what was least clear.

I don’t think I’ll have students pull up that page at the beginning of class again, but it was an important reminder that the majority of students I work with do not have the level of computer use skills that I tend to assume they do. In particular, typing skills and comfort with a laptop touchpad as a mouse. I need to remember to stop and check that everyone is able to follow along more often throughout the presentation.

The first two parts of the class were think/pair/share exercises. The first was on keywords and the second was on the more nebulous, ‘where might you find this?’ I had found from the last few batches of feedback that students were very interested in the idea of keywords, but not at all clear on what they were or how to choose good ones. I had the class group up by table and gave them 5 minutes to come up with all the words they could think of relating to math anxiety. Then I took one word from each group and asked if anyone had more to share. As they were sharing I was putting their answers on our Smartboard. I’ve found that on our Smartboard you have to write very large and slowly or it is completely illegible. As it was, it still looked pretty bad and a few students were beginning to giggle. They also thought it was pretty cool though, so I asked if anyone wanted to give it a try and had a taker. It slowed down class a little, but I think it was worth it for the positive atmosphere. I tend not to use many of the features of the Smartboard simply because it’s so buggy and unreliable, but I’m going to integrate the Smartboard more in classes where that aspect seems to engage the students.

The second think/pair/share activity was a new one for me, but I think it went really well. I wanted to get them thinking about who is creating the information they’re looking for and why. I gave an example of gun control – who cares about this issue? Who’s writing about it? Where do they share their writing? Etc. then let them discuss the same questions for math anxiety in their groups. I was really impressed that they came up with all of the ones I had brainstormed ahead of time and a few I hadn’t.

My time management for this session was not great. They only had 5-10 minutes at the end of the session to actually find their articles and I typically like to allow closer to half of the class for that so they can walk out with the bulk of the assignment finished.

I also hadn’t prepared a good explanation of the term databases, so I stumbled over that section more than I would have liked.