Articulating our learning

The last two weeks I’ve worked with about 18 sophomore pre-AP classes who are in the midst of research papers on electronic privacy and intellectual freedom.   After conversations with the teachers, I developed a lesson to involve the students in website evaluation–because particularly with this topic, I knew they’d be running across many points of view and many blogs. The Assignment Inspired to make the lesson less teacher-driven, I pulled together a set of technology related links(including a link to Steve Dembo’s blog), had students […]

Do we care what they say?

Funny the little moments of serendipity that lead from one thought to one another, and lead us to see something in a new light. This morning, someone on Twitter reminded me of a blog post I wrote a long time ago, “How Long Does it Have to be?” about how students focused on the length of their research papers because they aren’t really engaged in their topics. As I was thinking about that, Christian Long twittered out the link to a fabulous post by Chris […]

Shifting the print paradigm

In his excellent blog post, “What’s ‘Print’?” Bud the Teacher poses a question that we as librarians confront every day as the nature of information sources changes, and one that I personally struggle with.  It’s a must read post for every librarian(and English teacher, I might add!)  His post encapsulates the research dilemma very accurately: “I’ve assigned many research projects in my time as a teacher. Perhaps you have, too. Research, the process of looking and re-looking at the way an issue or idea has […]

Are databases dead?

I’m going to be blunt in this post.  Databases are dead.  (Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic.)  And who would mourn their loss?  What value do they add to our internet experience? Both Joyce Valenza and I (and I’m sure scores of other librarians) have probably written similar posts in the past asking database vendors to improve their wares. Now, don’t get me wrong.  I personally think databases are very helpful to students–obviously getting good sources of information that are accurate and current and […]

Finding daisies in the pasture

In his inimitable style, Doug Johnson posed a research question that I’m pondering this evening– “Is requiring print resources a sacred cow that needs to be put out to pasture?” My initial response(from his site) was that: “I have very mixed feelings about this. It feels somewhat artificial sometimes to say “one print source” but on the other hand, I have seen students go from one print source to using ten, and being engrossed in their subject and it really enticing them in. And we […]

The “Frude” problem

I failed some teachers the other day.   I failed to recognize a potential problem ahead of time and didn’t dedicate my best practices towards resolving it. After the fact, I realized it was a difficulty I see with research assignments fairly often.  (Even when I do recognize the difficulty ahead of time, it’s not always something I am able to resolve because it depends on collaborative planning sometimes.) I’m always pleased when teachers ask students to investigate topics instead of teaching the topic themselves directly because I […]

What changes we face

How are libraries changing?  Well, since my library is in boxes, it’s a question I think about a lot. Today a teacher across the street emailed me (and then Skyped) a reference question, which I knew was in a book that we had packed.  So, like an intrepid journalist, I followed up online, checked many of our databases, used Google, tried different search terms, still to no avail. Next I thought to dig deeper into the web, and check major statistical sites that I knew […]

How about some wheat bread?

  Professor Tara Brabazon of the University of Brighton is concerned about student uses of Google and Wikipedia.  She is giving an upcoming lecture in Brighton which piqued my interest, entitled “Google is White Bread for the Mind.” While I am always amazed by Google, and  by no means go so far as she does(banning students from using Wikipedia and Google), I do think she’s onto something as far as our work with students and gives us a good metaphor to hang our hats on. Google, […]

Desperately seeking engagement

A chance plea from a parent and colleague Brian Smith on Twitter today led to a long discussion online about the research process and how it could be so much more meaningful for students than it is. Smith was struggling to work with his 14 year old to generate a research topic.  The assignment the student was given was to pick “something of interest.” While it seems very open-ended to allow a student to research whatever they want, as very often happens, the student was given […]

Good enough?

How do students choose their sources?   After finishing the video I created about “authority of sources” I have come to the conclusion one thing I’d like to know more about is how students make those choices, so I can include their thoughts in the video as well. So I’ve been talking to students when they’ve been in the library and asking them about how they choose sources on our student blog, so I can eventually include that. I struggle sometimes when a class comes in with “convincing” even the […]