I am new in my district this year, even though I’m a 22 year veteran. This week I had a couple of sixth grade science teachers ask about using the library computers (20 in all) for a webquest they were completing, because there were some unavailable times in the computer lab to them. I of course agreed to have them, and the teachers assured me there was nothing I needed to do. Trying to be accommodating, I suggested at the bare minimum, I could have the webquest bookmarked, add it to the library’s home page for one click easy access, or just downright already have it loaded to save the teachers and their kids time. I received no follow up from the teachers, and quite honestly worked on other issues or projects when they came.
But I was alarmed at the neediness of the kids. Problems ranged from not having enough computers to students unable to locate the webquest. I looked at the handout and found a very long crazy URL, and understood completely why so many were having a hard time. But in the middle of this class was not the time to explain how I could have helped avert the issues. So I tried to help as much as I could, and just kept my mouth closed. Obviously I need to have a sit down talk with the sixth grade science teachers. NOTE to self: get with these two teachers. I didn’t need to wait long, as one of them came to me Thursday, asking about bringing a class back to the library one more time since the lab was booked for the next day. The problem she had was that she was going to be absent, and so the class would be with a special ed teacher who normally only works with a few kids in the class who are being served with special services in the “inclusion” format. She wanted me to be available to help. GREAT! Here’s my opportunity to at least explain how to better address this project, and how I could make it easier for the kids to not only find the webquest, but also find answers to the questions. I discovered that the teacher had planned for the kids to “google” their questions, and then copy/paste answers (as well as the URL where it came from) and appropriate pictures. Aye-aye-aaye how wrong! But it was too late to change this, as apparently the kids had been doing just this in the lab across the hall all week. I asked her why not have them use Discus (our state virtual library), Ebsco ( a subscription database), and pictures from United Streaming? She confessed she didn’t understand those resources, and she had been able to find everything they would need just using Google, so she felt they would be able to as well. She said next time they have a similar project, we could talk about those resources, and she would decide for her self whether or not to use them, but for the next day, they were to use Google. So I asked to at least send me the URL so it would be ready for them. She assured me she would. Late Thursday PM I got an email saying here is the URL, but there was no URL. Bummer. She didn’t respond when I replied with that information that there wasn’t a URL.
To say that when the kids came was a train wreck was putting it lightly. They did not know how to find the information, they were copying and pasting everything, and were not even remotely interested in anything accept Google. It was quite ugly how frustrated the kids were.
So here is my action plan:
• Meet with teachers regarding the project
• Show how Discus, Ebsco, and United Streaming would have been a lot easier to use for the research
• Talk about the inappropriate way kids were citing sources, and how teaching that material in ELA classes will not help them in science. Demonstrate that the content about citing should have been taught in the context of this lesson when it was needed (like while doing the webquest in Science)
• Finally, explain how including me in the planning stages will give them a third person who has a totally different perspective and might be able to offer suggestions and/or solutions to potential problems. (Had I known the plan was to turn kids loose on Google in the pre-planning stages, I would have given them good options for research that would have been safer, refereed, more authoritative, and probably closer to the kids grade level too.) And I could have taken the chance to actually teach the kids (and their teachers) about better quality searching.
So—I have my work cut out for me. I hope they are receptive to this. And I am shocked that my teachers do not know about Discus, Ebsco, or using their teacher librarian as a teaching partner. Totally caught me off guard, this did. But it also excites me to no end! I have so much to share.