Teaching research skills has become a large part of a school librarian’s job description. With the additions of inquiry arches in social studies and science curriculum across the country, our students’ need for research skills has increased dramatically. Inspired by college-level librarian offerings and in an effort to personalize learning, I created a way for students to book research appointments with me.
The personalized approach to school library offerings has been a focus for my programs in my school. The benefits to personalizing a student’s school library experience as much as possible are far reaching. My goal is to encourage students to seek me out for help in multiple areas. Presenting students with ways to use the school library for what they need increases student usage of the library.
Research on the Rise
The increased amount of research embedded into the curriculum has caused a greater need for me to enrich students’ skills in this area. This increase has mostly been in working with social studies and science content classes. This shift can be seen from elementary to high school-level schools. When pushing into classrooms, the level of research skills a class needs depends on the grade and the project. Lessons range from introductions to research strategies all the way to detailed database work. Time in teaching is always a barrier, and teaching research is no different. Offering individual research appointments allows students to schedule time to ask questions and work through problems on an individual level.
Providing students with the chance to sign up for research appointments has been an overreaching successful program. When I go in for research work in the classrooms I advertise this service. The largest struggle that all new programs or initiatives face are getting the word out. Once I started to have students sign up and word spread, appointments have increased each month. The way that students request an appointment is through a Google form linked to the “Research Tools” page of our school website. To see my form and the information I included click here. I have a free extension on this form called “Email Notifications for Google Forms.” This extension forwards me an e-mail when a student fills out the form so that I’m alerted right away. This is really helpful, especially when students are requesting appointments on the same day they need them.
Personalized research appointments for students has been a great enhancement to my school library. Students are getting a lot from having individual time to ask questions and get answers. When I am able to be helpful and guide students in a positive way, it brings students to the school library and fosters a connection to the school library. I look forward to seeing how this program continues to grow with students and their research needs over time.
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.