Today I had four classes in the library.
Two of Mr. Winkler's classes came on a follow-up visit to continue finding information about their papers related to their reading of Orwell's 1984. Robert had started this project last year and this year gave his students four sheets with directions for the project including one specifically about library resources. He is requiring that they use Opposing Viewpoints Resouce Center or CQ Researcher to find information on several topics related to the post-9/11 world including the PATRIOT ACT, torture, privacy rights, etc. The students will relate the issues they have been reading about in their text to similar contemporary issues.
So far the kids really seem to be using the resources very well; specifically steering away from Google searches which bring them too many hits which they realize they can't really begin to read or undertand in the amount of time they have to produce the paper.
The students are also encouraged to use library print materials about the topics and today were able to check out library books for the first time since the project began.
Sharing the library today were two other classes. Mike Keleman brought his U.S. history classes in for their second day finding primary source documents for their research project on various civil rights topics. Some are looking for info on the women's movement, others are researching the African American civil rights movement, still others Hispanic Americans or Native Americans. I didn't have as much time to show them how to find primary source documents online but did show them how to identify books with primary sources in the library's catalog by searching for subject headings which include the term "Sources." Most seemed to be finding enough material. Mike commented today that helping the kids was real exercise in patience--theirs and his. Most find it quite difficult to go beyond the obvious--the first link in a Google search being a familiar favorite--and digging deeper when they are looking for such resources.
We all know this is a modern syndrome--the inability or reluctance to go beyond the obvious--but it's our obligation to give the kids the motivation to go beyond the easiest and head for things which are not so accessible to those which have meaning for what they are trying to demonstrate in various papers and projects they are working on.
The kids from Emily Satterstrom's Non-fiction class are also beginning their research papers (12 pages--fairly daunting) and are coming one-by-one to inquire about topics and possible resources. I know she's encouraged them to seek me out as a resource and I think I'm up to the task. One boy had decided to investigate the relationship between music and current events and I had to think about that for a while. After sharing insights about the likes of Bob Dylan and hip-hop as reflecting the events of the times I told him I'd do a bit more research and he could check back with me. He then suggested I email him some suggestions which I thought was brilliant. I did find a terrific page at About.com about folk music which supplied some interesting jumping-off places. I also suggested that he use terms like "civil rights movement" and "music" in a search to locate more resources. I hope to find out whether these tips were useful or not and will let you know.
All in all an interesting and productive day. Some teaching, some learning. What more can one ask for?