Friday, November 22, 2013

Want to be busy? Make it mini.

Discovery Education's Clip Art
by Mark A. Hicks, illustrator
One of the challenges of a flexible schedule for librarians is getting time in teachers' schedules. It's hard to show how you can add value to a lesson or unit if you can't get in the door.

One strategy I use: mini-lessons. 
When a teacher first hints about working with me, I start thinking about how many mini-lessons I can offer. If the mini-lessons are part of a work session, I stay for the whole class to help students one-on-one. 

Mini-lessons are quick (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes), so teachers can fit them in easily, and they are value-added since I'm offering a concrete tip that students need right away. The trick is teaching research skills in short bits as often as possible. 

Last week, I worked with ninth graders researching for a Renaissance magazine project. Their teacher wanted basic research tips and citation help. 

That request turned into four mini-lessons:

1. Review of basic skills (what's a database, digital encyclopedia, finding books/websites via our catalog)
2. Creating a "Works Cited" page (using EasyBib, grabbing from Britannica or our catalog)
3. In-text citations (How and when to use them)
4. Follow up to answer questions, check progress

That request equaled 16 teaching sessions for me last week.

Was I busy? Yes...just they way I like it! 
And if that teacher found value in those mini-lessons, I'll be invited back.

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