Last week, I wrote that to be a valued member of the campus, one seen as a good co-teaching partner, a librarian must remember to teach like a teacher. In last week’s example, I looked at the role of elementary librarians and how easy it is to slide into the read a story and ask some group questions mode of “teaching.” Even with storytime, we need a way to ensure that what we teach is aligned to the curriculum, that we’re assessing what we’re teaching to see if we’re successful, and that we’re using good instructional methodology.
What about secondary librarians? Secondary librarians seem to be doing more rigorous work, helping students with research–no one would think that they weren’t teaching, right? I once heard a superintendent for curriculum say that rigor is defined in terms of alignment to the curriculum–the more you use the actual language of the standard and assess student learning as it will be formally measured, the more rigorous your lesson. Secondary librarians–can you name the specific standard you’re addressing when you help students select a database to do research? I’m sure you’re thinking, “it’s one of those social studies skill standards…” But a good teacher knows which one he/she is teaching and would spend some time preparing the lesson around the standard. If you’re not tightly aligned to the curriculum, many teachers won’t see you as collaboration worthy and might take a pass on bringing students to the library to research.
Here are suggestions for secondary librarians to use when preparing to do research with a class:
1) Curriculum – Look up and identify one or two curriculum standards/skills that fit the needs of the lesson. Assuming you only know that Mrs. Smith is bringing her US History class in to do research on causes of the Civil War for two periods next week, what skill standards can you address from the US History curriculum? Very often teachers are concerned with getting through all of the content and not focusing on the skills. Helping them out here will keep you in high demand when the word gets out among the social studies teachers if you can specifically address their standards.
2) Instruction – Plan examples. Do a practice run of any demonstration you have decided to do–I’ll never forget the first time I had to teach boolean operators in search strategies–it wasn’t planned, just an unintended consequence of doing a demonstration of a search for the state’s peacekeeping organization the Texas Rangers (NOT baseball). Get your classroom management worked out. Whether your library was retrofitted for computers, or one where students are on personal laptops at tables around the room, you must keep students focused on your lesson and not off task on their computers? What strategies will you use to make sure students are listening when you’re talking and not working ahead?
3) Assessment – How will you know students are learning the objective/standard you identif.ied in step 1? Can you use Kahoot or another method of formative assessment to keep students engaged, but also to let you know if you are being effective in meeting that objective? Can you use a rubric/class roster to check off if students have located a specific article you’re looking for or have successfully demonstrated a skill based standard from the curriculum? What can you pass on to the teacher that could be used as a daily grade in his/her gradebook?
As adults, most of us can’t recall the details of the history content we learned in middle school and high school. What we learned about social studies was how to learn about social studies–the systems and patterns and language of the discipline. Being an exemplary teacher of those skills and bringing in depth knowledge of information literacy, librarians can raise the rigor in the library, and put themselves in high demand for collaborative lessons.
Author: Jennifer Laboon
Jennifer LaBoon is the Coordinator of Library Technology in Fort Worth ISD. She serves on the AASL Blog Committee, on the Executive Board of the Texas Library Association, volunteers with a local children’s musical theater group, and is an avid TCU fan.