Library instruction

In my last post, among other things I whined about all of the high school library instruction sessions I had to do this week. Admittedly, they're time-consuming in a week where I already had too much going on, but in reality, now that I'm not in such a grumpy mood, I have to mention how much I've enjoyed doing library instruction this semester. My high school students this week have been especially great - they've listened, they actually act interested in what I'm teaching them, and I feel like some sort of Library God imparting my wisdom to bright young learners. Well okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I do like the feeling of introducing so many new research tools to students whose first thought is to try Google or Wikipedia. It probably shouldn't be surprising to me that so many people don't have a clue how to get started on library research. I thought I knew what I was doing during my undergrad years, and I hated to ask for help, but I know so much more now than I did then, and I at least had spent a good amount of time in the library and was familiar with the basics, unlike some of these students. And now I get to teach them everything I've learned!

One thing I've noticed is that as my confidence in my teaching ability has increased this semester, I've gotten much more hands-on in my approach. At first, I pretty much just stood up at the front and talked at them, but lately I've really been working hard to get some interaction and activities into my lesson plans. For example, this week with all of my high school classes, I've started with a group brainstorming session, and had the students practice setting up searches by writing out their research topic in a sentence, pulling out what they think are the important keywords, and coming up with multiple synonyms they could also use. Then I had them string various keywords together using Boolean operators, what fun! I've been really lucky so far in that my classes have all been pretty willing to participate - there's nothing worse than having every attempt at getting your students involved fall flat while they just sit and stare at you.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure I wowed today's classes with my awesome super powers, like the ability to type really fast, and fix a computer by hitting it, and, of course, my impressive Middlemarch reading skills (they're working on a paper on Middlemarch, although I got the impression that none of them had actually read the book yet. When I told them I had to read it in a week AND write a paper on it, I could tell they thought I was the coolest ever. Or maybe that's the lamest ever, it's hard to tell the difference sometimes). This Friday I'm teaching a group of students who have to do various papers on environmental topics, and then I think that's it for the year. I'll definitely be doing this again next semester, though - it's been a great experience.


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