Sunday, August 17, 2014

New School Year Begins With a Focus on Collaboration

The students first day of school was August 8th. Last year we had moved into the new building, and the library wasn't ready for prime time. I didn't open until August 22nd, three weeks after the start of school. This year, I had students in the library on the first day.  It was a soft opening, so the library wasn't over run with kids, but it was nice to have a functioning library on the first day of school.  

There are some changes in our district this year, and some of our schools are changing grade configurations.  That means librarians who are entrenched in elementary school now must serve middle school students in their libraries.  That is an issue because the library's resources were developed for grades K-5. It costs money to upgrade the resources for the additional grade levels. The other issue is how will these librarians serve the older students.  I got an email today asking me to share lessons that I teach to my middle school students. That is an interesting question. The librarian was hoping that I had lessons written out or worksheets or some program put together that I could send her for her new 6th and 7th grade students. 

6th Graders visit the library for orientation
You know, I just don't have a packaged program to send her. The reason I don't is because I collaborate with the classroom teachers on all my lessons that I teach. I want the students to have a purpose to use all the tools and resources that I demonstrate and share with them. If I teach them how to use a database, and then they never use it, my teaching is a waste of time.

At first, I thought that I had nothing to share with her. Then I realized that I document many of my lessons that I teach here in my blog, and I also have a page on the library website with classroom connections that has links to all the tools that I created for specific research projects. 

This is what I told her: 

"When I teach lessons to the middle school students, I always collaborate with the teachers. I do not teach anything in isolation. I see what the teachers need in terms of help with research, writing citations or using electronic tools to find and produce information. You can find links to some of the things that I created for classes hereUnfortunately, I don't have lesson plans or packets of activities for these students. 


Here is a blog post that I wrote about working with middle school studentsIf you put middle school or research into the search box on my blog you will find more posts where I talk about different lessons that I have taught over the years. 


I strongly believe that you need to work with the teachers so the students will have a chance to use in the classrooms what you teach in the library."

There are lots of great things that a librarian can do to support the academic program, but they need to work in a partnership with their teachers. If they do that, the students will benefit and become better seekers, users and producers of information. 

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