Thursday, August 28, 2014

Inquiry and Investigation, using QR codes to promote the school library program

The school year has started and along with it comes those dreaded “professional developments” unless you’re in a progressive district as I am and they are now called “professional learning opportunities”.  Undoubted, the term opportunity is often translated to mean mandatory creating an atmosphere for resistance. On a mission to change the dynamics of professional learning from “sit and get” to “inquiry and investigation” I utilized QR codes to engage my staff in learning about the upcoming year of library services.

It’s not as daunting as it seems! Use this tips below to enhance collaboration and engagement with your staff.

Identify patron (teacher’s) needs
What information is vital for your staff to know? Think about information that is pertinent but doesn’t require in-depth explanation. 

Mentally survey your teachers and identify the “tech tool” that would best meet their needs.  For example, if your staff is “tech-savvy” you may use QR codes for informational retrieval then their task would be to create a Thinglink about what they’ve learned.

Getting everyone on board
Create your space; make sure that tables are arranged for increased collaboration. Ask teachers to work in pairs and/or teams to complete the task.  Encourage teachers to try something new even if it’s scary!

Be honest with yourself and participants. Ask for their feedback and evaluate if participants not only learned the information but enjoyed the process.

In closing, just step out!

Guest Blogger,
MNPS Librarian

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Instructional Design & the School Library

In the era of high stakes testing and next generation assessments, schools have much to accomplish in a very short amount of time. Every resource at the school level needs to be utilized to its maximum potential, and every resource needs to support the ultimate goal of a school: student growth and achievement.

Librarians are an essential, school-based resource who promotes teaching and learning practices that include the development of 21st century skills, technology integration, and information literacy. Instructional design is key for modern school librarians to effectively accomplish this task and become a collaborative, instructional partner for the teachers they serve.

Having a solid foundation in instructional design allows librarians to plan and work with every teacher they serve because instructional design principles can be applied across grade levels and subject areas. This places the school librarian in a unique position to improve instruction for every student. Working with teachers, the librarian will be able to ensure effective, research based methods are applied to every instructional unit.

Modern school librarians are teachers as well. They not only collaborate and co-teach, but many school librarians teach classes independent of the classroom. Usually when this occurs, the librarian has a limited amount of time to build connections for the students; they need the lessons to be as efficient and effective as possible. Having research based, specific principles and strategies in their toolbox will save the librarian time and allow them to design effective lessons that clearly communicate the content and focus students on essential concepts and skills.

Building the relationship and collaboration with teachers through instructional design also allows the librarian to incorporate information literacy and instructional technology into a school’s curriculum. When school librarians are part of the planning process with teachers, they can more effectively weave information literacy throughout the curriculum. This also allows them to incorporate the most appropriate and effective instructional technologies into each lesson.

Moving forward into the 21st century will require schools to rethink their instructional practices. To prepare students for their futures, schools need to provide an education that centers on collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication. The school librarian plays an essential role in making this possible. Their skill set in information and technology literacies supports and develops those essential 21st century skills. Training librarians as instructional designers will create a school based resource that can truly transform teaching and learning in the building. Therefore, instructional design is key to the work of the modern day school librarian.

Team Library