As the semester is coming to an end I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what I have learned during my time interning with the GIS. In a very broad overview I spent my semester doing classroom observations, teaching library instruction, learning about the philosophy of teaching and library instruction, and even assisting a little bit in a research project.
First of all, I spent a lot of my time this semester doing observations of library instructions. I went to at least one class taught by each of the librarians who have teaches in the first year writing program, but I did not always attend a first year writing program instruction session. In fact I was able to sit in on some upper division and even grad level instruction sessions as well as EN 101 and 102 instruction classes. I am extremely happy about my wide exposer to the variety of classes because it helped me understand how many different approaches library instruction can take depending on the level of the class subject. By watching a variety of instructors teach and having spent some time teaching as well, I have started to develop my own teaching philosophy about how I want to act in the classroom and what I expect from the students. My philosophy is still a working process, but I am happy to have a foundation in which I can start building off of. (For more information on my teaching adventures and classroom observations please look as some of my past posts that are a reflection of my experiences.)
I have had the pleasure of being exposed to small portion of library instruction research. The research project I assisted on is a project that will take a few semesters to complete, but I have had the chance to help with some of the early stages. I helped organize with some of the pre-test survey data and have learned a bit about what they are planning on doing with the information gathered. Getting a small taste of doing research has got me wondering what I might possibly want to research. I don’t have a full understanding of what I want to research, but I think I would like to look into how library instruction can be used in the theory of “Decoding the Disciplines.” This theory is a teaching philosophy that in order to be an affective teacher one must break down every single step needed to preform a task as an expert in the field. Such as, how a geologist makes conclusions while field mapping or how an English professor breaks down literary text to symbolism and meaning. I loved the idea and Sara and I were able to rearrange the readings to allow me to look more deeply into this idea of decoding and then came up with a little side project where I took the syllabus from an Anatomy class and tried to create a series of instruction sessions, class assignments, and in-class exercises that would work with this idea of decoding the discipline of anatomy. I happily thank Sara for introducing me to the theory of Decoding the Disciplines, because it is a topic that I would really like to look into more.
In conclusion I would like to take a minute to express how much I enjoyed working with Sara over the past semester. She has taught me a great deal about what it means to be a library instructor all while allowing me to explore ideas that interested me personally, she let me side track the reading we would talk about in favor of the decoding the discipline papers so I can learn more about a theory I am interested in. Sara really takes an interest in what her interns are interested in and wants them to explore areas they are excited about. I consider myself very luck to have had the chance to work with Sara as her intern.
In past blog posts I have talked about grading students worksheets in order to assess myself in how I am teaching during my library instruction periods. However, I realized that I had not fully explained my process or why I think this is an important tool.
My process of grading the worksheet is relatively simple. For each question I give the students a score that ranges from 0-3. The score is given based on a set of criteria that I determine before hand. While the criteria changes with the worksheet and the content of the class The basic standards for each score are described below.
0- The students did not write anything down. I do this because if all the students have a 0 on questions that are later in the worksheet then it tells me that did not give the students enough time to work. I then can either rearrange the lesson plan to give the students more time to work or change the worksheet by either having less questions or changing what I ask (perhaps the questions are too hard). Luckily I have not had this problem. Some students do get a 0 for some questions, but I have not noticed a pattern in any of the classes.
1- The students only answered part of the question. Many of the questions I give the students have two or more parts. The parts are not difficult something along the lines of where I as the student to identify the name of a resource and then highlight why this source is important or can used in a paper. You could say that I am a fan of identify and describe questions.
2- The student answers all part of the questions, but they just do surface answers. The students do everything asked in the question, but they just do the bare minimum and use very broad answers. For example they may answer a question with the name of a resource and say that they can use it to provide a statistic for their paper.
3- The student answers all parts of the question and are specific. I want to see these specific answers because that means the student is engaged with what we are doing and that they understand what they are looking for in each question. For example, the student names a resource and then quotes or paraphrases part of the source identifying what they might like to use it for in their paper.
By scoring students answers I can judge how I taught that class. If the majority of the class get mostly ones on the questions then that tells me that I either did not clearly communicate what I wanted them to do or that I did not engage the class enough for them to care about what we were doing in class. If the scores are mostly twos then perhaps I need to engage the class more or try to direct them into thinking more deeply about the questions. Twos are great, but it does not show great understanding of what we were doing, but just scratches the surface. If I can get mostly threes then I would be ecstatic because that means I was able to connect with the class and they understood what we were doing.
All of this can inform me on about my teaching, it affects the activities I do in the classroom, and how I structure lecture for the class. After each class I have made some alteration to my lesson plan such as adding a small activity at the start of a class after my first solo teaching lesson. A more recent example comes from teaching two classes this past Tuesday. The first class had a little too much time that I planned on using for work time (the students finished faster then I thought they would and I ended up letting them out early). So before the next session in that day I had the students do a free write to start exploring their topic based solely on their own knowledge to see where their gaps were. I am constantly making some kind of change to the worksheet or lesson plan and I think each change has increased the knowledge output the students leave the classroom with. I am not an expert in the classroom in anyway, but I am slowly finding my way and learning what does and does not work for me after every class.
As I said in the pervious post I revised my lesson plan to try and make my points on how sources can be used to talk to one another in an essay more clear to the students. My revisions changed both how I lectured and the in class worksheet I gave the class. I changed the lecture so that I started out the class with a quick group exercise where I asked the students to make a list of the first 5 things they do when they are working on a writing assignment. I used their answers to illustrate how they need to do some background research on a topic before settling on their argument as well as using background research to help them become more familiar with the nuances of a topic and other subcategories that fall under the broad topics they had to choose from. (This class was given a list of ten topics they could write their papers on.) From here I then began to describe some of the source types (viewpoints, statistics, scholarly articles, and primary sources) used in Opposing Viewpoints. What I did was describe one of the source types and then gave the students five minutes fill out that sources section of the worksheet. Unlike the pervious worksheet used in the past class I had printed out a worksheet for each student and broke the tables into sections based on source type. I asked the students to find two versions of the source where one argued for the topic and one against the topic. Once I covered all four source types I then had the students do one last exercise. I asked the students to pick one source that argued for and one that argued against (they did not have to be the same source type). They then were asked how they could have two different argument types can talk to one another.
I wanted the students to see how they could start a conversation in their papers. For example how an ethical argument (perhaps a source from viewpoints) can have holes poked into it with a logical argument (a source from statistics). Over all I am a bit happier with the responses I was able to tease out of the students in this set of worksheets. I think that by breaking up the lecture and having the students work in short intervials helped kept the students focused on the topic. This helps let me know that I am on the right track with how I best teach. However I do think that my last exercise needs some work. Looking at the responses that students gave some of the students were able to grasp the conversation I was trying to get them start having. However, many of the responses were restatements from earlier parts of the worksheet.
If I get the chance to reteach this lesson plan I want to continue breaking up the lecture by having the students work for a few minutes. However, I want to rework the last exercise. I am thinking I need to reevaluate how I present the exercise. Perhaps a compare table is not the best way to do this. I might need to try and guide the students a little more in this exercise with better directions as well.
I have had the opportunity to teach three EN 101 classes on Opposing ViewPoints. Two of the classes were taught on the same day for the same instructor and within the class I had the students do an in class group worksheet. I split the class into six groups (I split them based on their rows of the classroom). Each group was given a prearranged topic picked by me and they were given access to a Google Doc where they could access the worksheet and fill out the worksheet together as a group. The topics I picked were: Advertising, Electronic Voting, Hunting, Online Music Trading, School Uniforms, and Video Games. I choose these topics because they are relatively easy topics to understand meaning that these topics would not be too complicated or have jargon heavy sources for a 10 minute class exercise where the students had not had time to prepare a pervious knowledge of the topic.
The first lesson I learned upon reflection of this experience was that I think I talked too long explaining the different types of sources the students could find in this database. I mean that I don’t think I had enough active learning during my lecture part of the class. I asked the class questions to try and keep them engaged but I lost their focus relatively quickly I think. This was later reinforced when I looked at the worksheets the groups had completed. In the worksheet I had the students find sources that made arguments for and against their assigned topic. They had to find at least one source for each argument that every part of the rhetoric triangle (Pathos, Logos, and Ethos). I then asked the students to provide me with a short explanation about why they think their source fits that portion of the triangle. I wanted the students to start thinking about how sources can talk to each other and how they could interact with the sources themselves.
Looking at what the students wrote on their worksheets I don’t think I was clear in what I wanted them to do or I did not get the right points across. The students were all able to find and identify the different types of sources, this was also made simple because Opposing Viewpoints breaks up the source types. But, in the other column where I wanted the students to think about how sources from different points of view and different arguments can talk to one another the responses where not exactly what I was looking for. I think I was not clear enough in my directions. Many of the students either simply said wether the source was Pathos, Ethos, or Logos or they gave a brief summary of what the source was about. Looking at these responses caused me to redesign the worksheet and how I wanted to teach the class.
This last Friday I was allowed the experience to teach two En 101 instruction classes. Both of these classes were taught by the same instructor and were one shot instruction classes. I used the same general lesson plan for both classes that covered the rhetoric triangle, Opposing Viewpoints Database, and how to use different types of sources to talk to one another in a review paper that utilizes at least one source that expresses a view that the student does not agree with.
I designed the lesson plan to start with a review of the rhetoric triangle were I tried to engage the students into talking about the pieces of triangle and what type of argument each part of the triangle is trying to make. I could definitely see that each class has a different dynamic in how they interact with each other and with the “instructor”. The first class did not talk too much to me, but they talked a lot with each other. I had to really probe and continuously ask leading questions in order to get the students talk to me and let me know they understand what is being covered. Where as the second class there were groups who seemed to be engaged with me when I talked. They would look at me in the eye and respond when I asked a general question to the class. I know that I cannot control how a class responds in general, because I am a guest that they only see once I don’t have a lot of authority with them. Part of this could be because the instructor did not introduce me to the students are say anything about how important this instruction lesson was. It also did not help that instructor sat at the front of the classroom looking bored and would search the internet doing other activities. These visual cues did not help me look professional or like what I had to say was important. I have no control over these aspects of a classroom; all I can do is try to work past these problems and try my best to reach those students who want to hear what I have to say.
I then moved the lesson on to the Opposing Viewpoints Database where I talked about the different source types the students can use in their papers. This part of the lesson took up the majority of classroom time. Here I did a lot of talking about what the sources are and how they can be used in a paper. I tried to ask the students questions about where they could use the sources in their paper based on the triangle we had been discussing earlier. Even with the questions I asked the class I could tell I was losing their attention. I believe that I talked to long without some kind of active learning activity to break up the lesson. I need to change this up before I use the same general idea of the lesson for a class in the up coming week. I think that what I want to do for the up coming week is to break up how long I talk. Toward the end of the class time I have the students complete a group worksheet where they find one source for each part of the rhetoric triangle for an argument for and against based on a topic I assigned each group. In order to keep their attention I think that what I want to do is after I explain a source I would have the groups focus on finding that type of source that can make an argument for and agains the topic and have them talk about where in their paper they can make use of the argument in their paper. I would want to rework the worksheet to try and allow for this more parceled out activity. In addition to this change I plan on comparing the worksheets gathered from the classes I have already taught and the one I will teach in this upcoming week and comparing the answers from the two different styles of the lesson plan to see if one type of lesson plan was able to teach the ideas better then the other. That is going to be the topic of my next blog post.
Teaching styles change from topic to topic, something made necessary because math can not be taught the same as history class. The same goes for library instruction classes. I have been observing multiple EN 102 classes along with the occasional upper level classes in other departments. Something I have noticed and wanted to reflect on is the change in teaching styles required when teaching EN 102 students how to search in Scout and teaching a 400 level history class how to search in Scout.
When demonstrating for EN 102 how to search in Scout the instructors go at a slower pace. They try to be very careful and deliberate in what they show the class. They use search terms from practiced searchers so that they can choose just the right type of information to show the students. However, with the upper level history class the instructors wanted to help the students search for resources using their own topics. For example at the start of the history instruction class each student said what they were planning on writing their paper about. Then as the instructor demonstrated how to search in Scout for books and articles they used the topics the students said in class. This showed the students a less structured lesson, because the instructor did not know what results they would get back. Both of these methods have their place and I believe they are being correctly utilized by the instructors. In the EN 102 classes the students might not have a good solid idea of what they want to write about and the instructor has to get a lot of information into a 50 or 75 minute class period, not easily done. By knowing exactly what they are going to get in search the instructor is able to demonstrate and move on to the next learning objective effectively. Where as the history class had a 2 1/2 hours to do there class allowing the instructors to demonstrate some trial and error searches with the students’ topics. The longer class period of the history class also allowed for a lot more one-on-one attention with the students as they ran into trouble with their searches.
The second point is explaining keywords and search terms to the students. In the EN 102 classes the instructors are very specific in defining keywords and subject terms. Where as the history class most of these students seem to understand the difference and the instructors were able to move on quickly once establishing the difference.
This comparison has helped me understand that not everything has to be completely planned in the lesson plan. Sometimes a loose outline of a lesson plan is what is needed. It is all based on the topic and the type of class being taught.
My name is Kelly Grove and I am the new GIS intern for the fall 2016 semester. A few quick facts about me are that I am a Grad Student with UA in the Library and Information Science Department and this is my finial semester (Wohooo!). Over the course of the semester I have the chance to work with the GIS team to learn more about library instruction and I have the chance to work on some research projects to learn more about how librarians are doing different types of studies.
This last Friday I had the chance to do my first co-teaching instruction session for and EN 101 class searching for film reviews. Going into the classroom I was not nervous, because my part was a short demonstration on how the students can find reviews to use in their papers. However, during the first class when it came to be my turn nerves popped up. I started to talk too fast and made some mistakes in what I was typing into the search bars. The mistakes I made in typing then affected my the results I got back which threw off what I had planned on talking about with the students. I tried to hide the fact that I was a bit flustered. I am not sure if the students noticed but the instructor for the class and Sara both noticed. Before the second class came in Sara told me to make sure I breath while presenting. This will slow me down and give me time to make sure everything is okay before doing a search. It worked! My second demonstration went much better and the searches worked perfectly. I feel like the second set of students were better able to understand what I was trying to show them.
Remembering that nerves can hit at any moment and that mistakes are just part of live demonstrations are important. For my first experience of participating in a library instruction session I made the rookie mistakes and now feel better prepared for the next time I step into the classroom. I know that these won’t be my last mistakes, but at least I get to make new ones and get to learn some new lessons.