Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I'm so lucky. Really. Classroom teacher colleagues from the school on my floor have reached out to collaborate on library lessons, even though the library and I are still getting our acts together. First, the Freshman biology teacher, J., worked with me on a short biome project that involved students doing research in the library and now I'm working with the Sophomore ELA teacher, S., guiding her students in creating an informed PowerPoint presentation on Iran in preparation for reading Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.

In both cases, the teachers agreed to two sessions dedicated exclusively to running TRAILS (Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills)--one right at the beginning and one to be completed after the research has been completed--in addtion to the actually library instruction lessons. Last Friday, we had all three of S's sections sit down and do the TRAILS 9th grade assessment. They seemed a little flustered by some of the questions, and the question that met with the most consternation by far was this:

Which of the following is not a Boolean operator?

This, I realized, was the datum I needed, even before the scores were in, to develop my research lesson for this week, which I delivered with S. in the library today (the Wednesday after the first TRAILS session). I wrote a quick Aim/Do Now worksheet that then gave a brief overview of George Boole and Boolean operators, complete with Venn diagrams, and examples of the kinds of search results you get when you use and, or and not on Google. I also printed out a precision search tip sheet on Google searching focusing how to use the operators:
And is the default and is a stop word as well, so there's no need to key it in.
Or must be typed in all caps (both caps?) to recognized as an operator and not a stop word.
Not is represented by a minus sign [ - ] directly preceding the word to be excluded.

I also briefly went over using double quotes to get exact phrases, but my audience is too restless to take any more than that in by listening (five minutes is an eternity to sit and listen to a teacher jabber away), so I left lots and and lots more on the sheet I gave them. To my surprise, many students did use as they searched away on their own, hurrah. S. and I had developed a Pathfinder/Webquest sheet as well, which I both printed and made available on my Wikispace. This way, the students could browse the printed pathfinder in their hand to choose potential research web sites for their chosen topic, and simply click on sites from the Wikispace to look them over.

Whereas the bio class is balking at actually turning in their biome projects for some reason, I have high hopes that the Persepolis PowerPoint presentations will get done. I'm giving a quick classroom mini-lesson on putting together a bibliography slide on Friday and S. has set a deadline for completion early next week. Another round of TRAILS testing will give us data on whether the students boosted their library skills acumen, which I believe, through anecdotal observation, they did. That will make the Persepolis project my first fully completed data-driven library-powered research project this year. Next up: a biography project with the dance teacher. Never a dull moment!

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