Sunday, October 22, 2006

Collaboration in a Web 1.0 World

We now have documentation about positive effects of librarian/teacher collaboration from many sources. Planning cooperatively with teachers has a "sustained positive impact" on ACT scores according to the Illinois Study funded by ISLMA in 2005. One of the key findings was that "Students achieve academically when their visits to libraries bring them into contact with librarians as teachers and co-teachers”. The Illinois Study Fact Sheet also points to evidence that librarians in exemplary schools “perform the instructional role more often” than in less recognized schools. That seems like common sense. At New Trier High School Library we have 9 librarians and so each of us has the time to meet with teachers, talk about the next research project, and find appropriate resources to ensure that students are able not only to fulfill the project requirements, but also able to formulate thoughtful questions and thesis statements.

Collaboration at New Trier has evolved in part from the library liaison program; each librarian attends departmental meetings of academic departments. In addition, librarians are often included in summer curriculum work. We work with one-teacher-at-a-time who spread the word that we are able to “add value” to student research projects. Newer teachers are brought into the fold by more experienced teachers.

Responding to student research journals on BlackBoard has enabled us to “get our feet wet” with some of the features of Web 2.0 tools. One of our most successful collaborations in the Web 1.0 world has been doing direct instruction with students on formulating essential questions for Jr. Theme research.

Student comments from research journals on BlackBoard have given us insight into the potential of using Web 2.0 tools such as blogging. “I began to realize the importance of my journal and began to really use it to my advantage near the end of the first quarter. I can’t believe how much the journal taught me how to read. Putting my thoughts down on paper showed me the changes in my reading and the levels of sophistication I was managing to achieve. Without question, the reading journal was the most important element in my growth as a reader this year. It pointed out the nuances of what it is to read critically.”

Collaboration in a Web 2.0 World

Why not give each student a blog? Why not be able to connect with each student one-on-one? Last year Will Richardson, blogger/education guru did some staff development with our teachers. As a result of keynote, I experimented with pbwiki and a China provinces project , Furl, Flickr and my stickies. But I think the really powerful tool is the blog because of the comment features and the "read/write-ness" of it all. The social, collaborative nature of the blog is key; teaching is not really instruction, but more like a conversation. No one is the ultimate expert. As Will Richardson says, "contribution not completion" is the ultimate goal. This is just the beginning of more intimate connections with students. Web 2.0 promises to enable more reflection and more participation with students than ever before.

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