My school library thrives during interstitial times; in-between moments are quickly filled. My programming and priorities invite large swaths of the student body to utilize the library space to do the social work of education. Like a circadian rhythm, we can count on spikes in library traffic before school, during lunch, and after the academic day.
I celebrate my library as a community center and plaza-like public forum. I also have a professed love of choose your own adventure. For these reasons, I am encouraging students to step into the plaza, choose their own adventure, and explore opportunities to exercise and develop multiple literacies during an interstitial period called “Academic Flex Time.”
Academic Flex Time occurs once a week at the end of the academic day during a period that is typically given to office hours. The goal for this time is to open up opportunities for student choice based around interest, need, and curiosity. I have set a professional goal to consistently offer exciting opportunities during this time. While I had some good sessions during last year’s inaugural run, I wasn’t deliberate and consistent enough to help flex time fulfill its potential.
Here are a sample of sessions I have run so far, noting connections to the AASL Standards.
Downloading Your SIS Calendar
Relevant standard: IV.B.4
This session helped students sync their personal calendar in the Student Information System (SIS) to their laptops and mobile devices. Since it was at the beginning of the year, it helped students bring their schedule to life on their digital devices.
Students exclaimed in delight when they could see their schedules on their phones. Students were able to download their academic calendars as well as their after-school activities and athletics. I see this fitting into the Curate Shared Foundation because the session took two tools that students rely on and showed them how to connect them in order to access important information.
4. Providing tools and strategies to organize information by priority, topic, or other systematic scheme
Do You Want to Build a Podcast?
Relevant standard: VI.D.1
The title is best appreciated when sung to the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” This session allowed me to gather student and faculty stakeholders in our fledgling radio station, KWEB. KWEB used to feature live broadcasts online, but to mitigate extremely demanding schedules, allow more flexibility, and honor trends in media and broadcasting, I have moved the model to podcasts.
Over the summer, we acoustically treated the front room to accommodate better recording conditions. The meeting included the president of the KWEB radio club, the editor-in-chief of the Webb Canyon Chronicle (the publication of the journalism program that I advise in the library), the editor of the WCC’s technology section, and two invested faculty members who are interested in participating. Weeks after this kick-off meeting, KWEB signed up a horde of students interested in broadcasting. We will keep a regular meeting to check in with podcasters, provide tips and tutorials, and maintain a cohesive club. While I believe KWEB and clubs encompass every aspect of the Engage Shared Foundation, I would focus on the flex-time session’s introduction to the learning environment, recording tools, and faculty support for student expression.
1. Structuring a learning environment for innovative use of information and information technologies
Webb Maker Collective
Relevant standard: I.B.2
In this session, the student-run club called the Webb Maker Collective introduced its goals, projects, and officers for the year. We even tinkered with the student-built video game cabinet and made some modifications to enhance gameplay.
This year the Webb Maker Collective plans to set off its third weather balloon, tinker with 3-D printers, develop original games for the video game cabinet, and hold maker events for the Webb campus. This session engaged the Inquire Shared Foundation of the AASL Standards by asking students to identify goals, determine gaps in knowledge, and start to plan to figure out how to fill those gaps.
2. Devising and implementing a plan to fill knowledge gaps
News and Views
Relevant Standard: V.A.2
This session featured a news quiz and an introduction to our digital subscription to the NY Times. What I like about the NY Times news quiz (and any news quiz, really) is that even if you get everything wrong or don’t know any answers, you are given an entry point into major stories of the past week. For those in the know, it is a great way to validate the feeling of being caught up (quite a challenge these days, no?).
By taking a news quiz together, students are given an opportunity to hypothesize a best possible answer when they aren’t sure. Above all, news quizzes allow them to engage in a relatively low-stakes discussion of values, assumptions, and misconceptions. As a result, it’s a less contentious start to discussing current events. Especially for this last reason, we engaged the Explore Shared Foundation of the AASL Standards.
2. Challenging learners to reflect and question assumptions and possible misconceptions.
How are you using interstitial spaces to cultivate your audience? How do you see this work relating to the AASL Standards? Leave your ideas in the comments below.