I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Friday, November 13, 2009

AASL Conference: Teaching The Big6 for the Little Guys

When we were in library school, we were taught that we needed to use a research model to help our students learn to conduct their research using a process. Most school librarians end up using The Big6 or, for the little guys, The Super3. I myself have, in fact, used these models in teaching lessons, although I have had limited success with Super3 and almost no success with Big6. Just try saying to my 5th graders, "OK, guys, our first step is 'task definition.'" I dare you. You will immediately realize it's going to take a whole 40-minute period to explain just this one step, let alone the other five.

Amanda Jones, a school librarian like me(!), has come up with a great and quick way to teach Big6 skills to elementary school students in a limited amount of time -- even kindergarteners. The original Big6 steps are task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis, and evaluation. Whew! That's all well and good for librarians, but for elementary kiddos, not so much.

So, Amanda's tweaked Big6:
  1. Task
  2. How
  3. Where
  4. Use
  5. Make
  6. Decide

Much better, thank you.

During the session, Amanda gave several awesome examples of very short (two or three 30-minute sessions) research projects with cool products done using Big6 strategies. Her visual aid that she carries from grade level to grade level for consistency is a staircase with a step on each stair. Since we use Thinking Maps at my school, I have mine in a flow map (like a timeline, basically) for my first Big6 lesson on Monday. Either way, she reminds us that it's important to stay consistent if we want kids to remember the process and build on it from year to year.

One more cool idea to introduce The Big6: Use the book Froggy Gets Dressed to teach the importance of using a process. (Froggy could have had more time to play outside if he had used a process when getting dressed, instead of forgetting so many things!)

As mentioned earlier, I do plan to introduce the process to my students starting on Monday, for grades K-3. I even modified my sad and lonely Big6 posters:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

AASL Conference: Meeting Margriet Ruurs

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, I plan to share a little bit of what I learned at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Conference last week. I was thrilled that our national conference was held in my home state this year so that I could have the opportunity to go and enjoy! Each of the following blog posts will highlight a concurrent session that I attended. I hope this information will be helpful to some of you out there in school libraries, and maybe just interesting to some of the rest of you.

The first session that I would like to highlight for you was called My Librarian is a Camel: How Children Around the World Get Books. The session was led by the author of the book My Librarian is a Camel, Margriet Ruurs. Margriet, originally from the Netherlands, was charming and fun to listen to as she told us about all kinds of nontraditional ways that children have access to libraries around the world. Read the book for more on that.

One cool project that I'd like to try with my students is called A Book Marks Our World. It's basically a bookmark exchange program, so that children from all over the world can connect with one another via their shared love of reading.

I do recommend sharing Margriet's book with children, although it's a little long for a read-aloud. I like to hit the highlights of just a few featured countries when I share it. Students love to check the book out and go back to read for more details about their favorite mobile libraries.