Friday, May 23, 2014

Finding balance in the library program's focus

As promised, I have meditated on the library program's focus and finding a balance within elements it contains.  One of the library program's elements that I thought a lot about was reserch.  The last quarter of the school year I committed to attempting a module from the engageny website for the 3rd and 4th grade classes.  How did I arrive at this foolish decision?  Well, I'd already done some research projects with both the 1st and 2nd grade classes and felt ready to take on the upper grades but wasn't sure about choosing a topic.  So, I solicited feedback from the 3rd and 4th grade teachers - I asked if I could help support the curriculum with a particular research topic or if (gulp) anybody might be interested in collaboratively teaching a research project?  I didn't receive many responses and the ones I did receive said that any research was good research and would be well appreciated.

Now, everyone likes to be appreciated but, as a librarian, I also wanted to be helpful so I thought I'd take a look at the enagageny modules that our district would be taking on next year.  I thought maybe I could take a couple for a test drive and offer my experiences with them later.  Ha!  Taking on one of these modules solo with an entire grade level of 125+ students is not recommended.  Even a modified version of one of these things (the full module for Interdependent Roles of Colonial Trades, grade 4 is 656 pages) is a big undertaking.  I learned a valuable lesson, one that was taught extensively in library school but nevertheless, had to be experienced personally.  That lesson is that collaboration is necessary if we are going to tackle deeper projects with cross-curricular content.  Although we enjoyed some success with these modules, they could have been so much more!

It has been rumored that next year the library will be flexibly scheduled for grades 2-4.  If this schedule is put in place, the possibilities for meaningful research in the library will be greatly increased!  Collaboration will be the norm instead of the exception and at least two elements of the library program will be in balance.  Research and Curricular Support.

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