Friday, May 15, 2015

What's Math got to Do With It?

Confession: I’m not a librarian. But I work with them every day and I’m a BIG fan.

So, now that we have that out of the way, I’d also like to tell you that I not only love math but love finding ways to incorporate literacy skills into math content and instruction. One thing I see over and over again is the lack of math in our school libraries. I don’t think it’s necessarily for lack of trying, I just think it’s more about “tradition” than anything. Often libraries are seen as the center of literacy and information, and rarely seen as a place to teach and apply mathematical practices.  With that being said, it seems librarians and math teachers aren’t always sure how to work together to meet math and literacy standards.

Well, we are trying to break down those walls in MNPS and make our libraries the center of teaching and learning across all disciplines, math included!

So, what’s a librarian to do? Here are some thoughts… 

Curating  resources 
Use your role as an information specialist to curate resources for math teachers. Find the best print and digital resources that match state standards and make them easily accessible to teachers and students 

Incorporating Literature 
There are a ton of math and literature resources available. Make sure to add these books to your collection. Then, reach out to math teachers with some interesting ideas on how to incorporate literature into their classes. 

You could also create “math” displays in the library featuring one or more of the books and even an activity to go along with them. Like this one… 

Now that you’re reading in math, why not start writing? Work with a teacher to implement writing in their math classes. You could help them develop a writing process the students can use to reflect on their work and learning. 

Problem Solving 
If students are going to be able to solve problems, they need to read and comprehend the problem first. Share reading strategies with teachers that will help their students break down the problem so they are able to pull out the necessary information to solve it. 

Vocabulary Development 
Vocabulary development is so important on so many levels. This is just another “in” you can use to begin working with math teachers and luring them into the library.  Plan vocabulary lessons with the teachers and either teach or co-teach lessons that help students gain the necessary vocabulary they need to be successful. 

Lesson Planning 
Now that you have established yourself as an instructional partner through any (or all!) of the above strategies, why not start helping math teachers plan full lessons. Collaborate on where to best incorporate the above the strategies, manipulatives, co-teaching models, etc… 

Now that you’ve started lesson planning, why not start co-teaching! Co-teaching would create a situation where manipulatives and math centers could really be center stage and provide a hands-on and engaging learning experience for students. 

MakerSpaces are definitely making their way into libraries all across the country. We have several schools in MNPS with varying levels of a MakerSpace in their library. If this is an option for you, this is just another way to get math incorporated into the library. You can have math manipulatives, measurement tools, and task cards with math activities ready to go for students to use. 

Professional Development 
And, last, but not least, seek out your own professional development in these areas so you are prepared but also ready to provide professional development and resources to your math teachers to keep best practices and best resources fresh in their mind.

As you can see there is A LOT that librarians can do to bring math into the library and into math classes. As with anything else, don’t try to do it all at once! Start small, with one or two suggestions on this list or with just one or two teachers you know would be willing participants.

Have you had any successful lessons or collaborations with a math teacher? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Team Library

Monday, May 4, 2015

Library Mini-TeachMeets–Professional Development for Faculty Members

Looking back, I remember when I first became extremely excited about how technology can enhance teaching and learning. It was when I attended my very first Nashville TeachMeet. I wasn’t sure what to expect but felt that I should see what the hype was about.  I immediately began sharing some of the wonderful tools and concepts I had learned.  I was sharing it with everyone (family, friends, colleagues, etc.).  One of my friends commented that I was talking so fast that she could readily tell that I was extremely excited. 

I appreciate everything a TeachMeet represents. One can learn a technology concept and tool within 20 minutes.  If it captures your interest, you can focus your attention and learn more about it on your own later.  Being rejuvenated after attending this event, I was anxious to share the concept with my colleagues at school.  

I introduced the concept of TeachMeets at one of our school in-services by doing a presentation highlighting some of the items I learned about from the Nashville TeachMeet.  After the presentation, I told the faculty that I would be conducting Mini-TeachMeets one day after school each month.  Essentially, I would share one “cool tool” by introducing it and showing how it works.  During the remaining time, teachers would have time to explore the tool.  Currently, the Mini-TeachMeets are online instead of after school.  Teachers receive a certificate of participation that they may include in their Professional Notebook (which is submitted to their supervising principal). The names of all participants are entered in a monthly drawing for a surprise gift.  Participants will not be eligible to win a monthly drawing more than once during the school year.  This will increase the opportunities for everyone to be a winner.  In addition, every time a person participates his/her name is submitted for the end-of-year drawing.  The more TeachMeets one attends increases the chance for the end-of-year prize.  Teachers also complete a survey to help me determine the effectiveness of the sessions.

Participants have given positive feedback about the value they see in the tools and how much they look forward to the next month’s session.  Several teachers commented that they appreciate having the opportunity to view the TeachMeets online because of the convenience.  Some of the tools that have been highlighted in the Mini-TeachMeets include:  EasyBib, Learning Express Library, Tennessee Electronic Library, Transparent Language, TedEd, TeachingBooks, Stoodle, QR Codes, Animoto, Hoopla, Freegal, Edmodo, Screenr, SlideRocket, StudyBlue, Mango Languages, DropBox, Evernote, etc.

Mini-TeachMeets help to keep me abreast of innovative educational tools.  TeachMeets have definitely made a difference in my life, and I hope it is making a difference for others. 

MNPS Teacher-Librarian