Tweetle Dee

Today, Brett and I taught two New222 classes.  For a little something new, I decided to add a Twitter aspect to Brett’s (well-established) game of “Library Survivor.”  In the game, one of the challenges is for the students to take a funny picture of their favorite part of the library and show it to one of the instructors.  This time, I gave the students the option to tweet the photo instead to @gorgaslib with the hashtag #librarysurvivor.  I was interested to see if this would actually work and it did!  Well…kind of.  Not all of the students participated by tweeting, but a few did.  Only one tweeted directly @Gorgaslib, but the other groups tweeted with the #libsurvivor.  So, next time I’ll try to make it more clear that we want them to tweet directly at the library.  I would really like to emphasize this, too, because I think it will be a nice thing to add to our twitter presence and to gain some exposure/recognition for library instruction.

Classroom Culture

So, I’m only two classes away from completing my teaching requirements for this internship.  One thing I’ve noticed after teaching several sessions is that, while you may teach the class the EXACT same way every time, sometimes the “classroom culture” is just not going to play out in your favor.   At this point, I feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on the BCE/New 222 classes, but no two classes are the same.  Sometimes I have a super class that loves to participate and, at other times, I have a dud of a class.  I mean, just a DUD.  More than anything, I find that if the instructor does not promote a lively/interactive classroom during a typical class period, there is going to be little hope of getting participation out of the students in a library session…and that is a tough nut to swallow.  I have a real yearning to make every class THE MOST INFORMATIONAL AND FUN CLASS OF ALL TIME, but often times my own enthusiasm is eclipsed by poor classroom culture.  And while I think we should all strive to overcome such things, sometimes you just can’t seem to get around it, and that is frustrating.  Has anyone else come across this?  Do you have any suggestions for encouraging apathetic students?

Week Eight and Nine: Achievement Unlocked

So much teaching!  Over the past two weeks, I have really amped up my teaching game.  I’ve been co-teaching all over the place and, by the end of this week, I will have completed my first two solo sessions.  Yesterday, I taught a veterans affairs class, and Brett was nice enough to hand the reins over to me for the entire session.  I think it went really well.  The instructor even sent a really nice thank you note and some gifts over to let me know she appreciated the class, saying that I mentioned some really useful stuff to her students.  Being a librarian at times can be a really thankless job, but when you do come across the people that appreciate the work we do, well, it can be positively joyous.  So, that’s my humblebrag for the day.  I just think it is nice to know what we are doing is being appreciated.

Week 6: Popular vs. Scholarly

This week we were asked to work on an active learning exercise to teach students about the differences between scholarly and popular articles/journals.  I like the idea of giving the students two articles and having them evaluate them on the spot before giving them any sort of lecture on the difference between popular and scholarly (much like Mark did in the class I observed a few weeks back).  This approach, in my opinion, gets the students to think critically about some terms they are already familiar with (“popular” and “scholarly”) and apply them to a research/library setting.  This way, the instructor can talk the students through the reasons why they decided “Article A” is scholarly and why “Article B” is popular.  After all, these are concepts they are already familiar with (at least in the abstract).  We’re just giving them the tools/knowledge to help them apply those concepts to their research.

In addition, I have also created a Sporcle quiz* that could possibly work as a quick little assessment after the article evaluations.  It does not look quite like I want it to, but it is a nice start.  If anyone knows of a Sporcle alternative or quiz generator that is a little easier to use/format, please let me know.

*Here is the bitly for the quiz:

Also, here is a pretty sweet photo I found on the interwebs:

Week 5: EN 102

Today was my first day to co-teach an EN 102 class.  Overall, I think it went really well.  Alex was the main instructor, and I assisted by executing my keyword “active learning” activity that I demoed in our weekly meeting last week.*  While the application of the activity in a real classroom wasn’t perfect, the instructor seemed to like it, and even complimented me on it at the end of class. So, yay.

Which brings me to our reading last week, “Becoming Critically Reflective: The Process of Learning and Change.”  The article’s main focus was to illustrate how our assumptions about the way we teach and the ways we present can be changed by viewing our performance through different lenses.  So, while it is certainly healthy to be self-reflective in our vocation, sometimes it is important to get the outside opinions of others, whether it is our peers, our students, or even the theoretical literature surrounding our profession.  As I’ve mentioned before, I often get nervous speaking in front of people, so getting to demo my methods in front of my fellow “padawans” each week is super duper helpful.  For example, getting that little bit of encouragement from my peers and mentors last week really and truly gave me the confidence to co-teach the class today.  Feedback from others is crucial to my success in this internship, as it gives me confidence in what I’m doing and helps me see beyond my nervous disposition.  So, keep the criticisms/feedback/praise coming, and I’ll try to do the same for you!

*I added a worksheet component (that used word bubbles) to help guide them along.


Week 4: SLIS Survivor

This week all the interns joined Brett for our first co-teaching experience (well, except for Robert…he’s seasoned).  We all met in the Osburn Room to give library tours and play a game of Library Survivor (LS) with SLIS’s LS507 class.  We had previously worked with Brett to develop a version of LS that would appeal to SLIS students, and I think it turned out nicely.  I was lucky enough to get a combination of SLISers in my tour group.  All of them were first semester students, but each student was familiar with the library in different ways.  Tours, I think, are perfect for me.  When I’m moving, my nerves aren’t really an issue.  I also liked dealing with the students in a small group.  I felt like I got to “know” them a little bit on the tour, so by the time we came back to the classroom to go over SCOUT I was as cool and a cucumber.  I think I’m going to really enjoy doing these BCE/Compass classes in the next couple of weeks, which follow the same format.  Now for first year writing…


Week 3: Observation

This week was my first week observing.*  Since the schedule this semester is awkwardly mapped, I was unable to view a first year writing course.  However, I did get to view Mark teach a Comm 123 course and Brett teach a Compass course, the latter of which I helped out with a bit.

The first class I observed was Mark’s Comm 123 session.  Comm 123 is a public speaking course required of most majors within the communication’s school.  Of all the things worth mentioning about Mark’s class, I think the most interesting was how he began.  Mark opened the class with two articles about texting and driving, one of which was from a scholarly journal and the other from a popular news source.  Mark had the students read the abstracts aloud and voice their opinions as to why each was labeled the way they were.  (For example, the students noted that the scholarly article was written with very technical language, while the popular article was written for an audience with a lower reading level.)  After dissecting the two pieces, Mark then asked the students which one would be a better source for their first speech topic.  Most of the students, as expected, answered with the scholarly journal.  Then Mark explained that, yes, while that does seem like the logical answer, for a public speaking class a scholarly journal is not necessarily appropriate, depending on the audience and topic.  I liked this for several reasons:

  • It broke down resource stereotypes, such as the assumption that all scholarly journals are “good” and all popular publications are “bad.”
  • It helped the students think critically about library resources.
  • It was interactive.  Student’s led the conversation while Mark steered them in right direction.  This is much more preferable to me than lecturing.

The second class I observed last week was Brett’s Compass class.  I feel like Brett was made for these.  He is so personable, and I have a lot to learn from his enthusiasm for the library and the students.  Observing him give a library tour was particularly helpful, as I was tasked with giving a library tour this past week to some SLIS students (more on that to come later).  In addition, his library survivor game is top notch.  The students loved it, and even got mildly competitive with it, which is great if you believe all the “game theory” literature.

Overall, things last week went well.  My first round of real, hardcore co-teaching comes next week, and I feel like observing these librarians helped ease my nerves a bit.  This, much to my chagrin, just might be enjoyable after all. 🙂


*Sorry about being a little late posting this to the blog

Week 2: SCOUT demo and Keyword Planning

At this past week’s meeting, the rest of the interns and I presented our SCOUT demos to Alex, Brett and Michael.  I had prepared a demo that I thought was about 5 minutes long but ended up being much longer.  Time management, it seems, is going to be a problem I need to work on for the next couple of weeks.  My lesson plan was rather detailed, but I have a tendency to elaborate unnecessarily and stumble over my words (hello nerves).  Other than that, I believe that the overall reception of my demo was positive.  I covered what Scout is (a discovery search tool), how to get into Scout, how to search in Scout using the advanced search tool, and what a record looks like.  Looking back, this was a bit ambitious.

This week, I am working on presenting an active learning activity for choosing keywords.  I have done quite a bit of researching, and I think I have found an activity that would really appeal to the sensibilities of incoming students.  I got the idea from UWM’s library’s website (  Basically, the objective is to get students to use encyclopedias to generate a list of keywords/synonyms/related words to use when searching for materials for their topic.  I think it will work nicely because A) students are typically familiar with using online encyclopedias for research, both wikipedia and otherwise and B) it creates and nice teaching moment for letting students know that encyclopedias, while informational, are not appropriate to cite in a college level paper; HOWEVER, they are great for brainstorming paper topics and for choosing ways in which to narrow or broaden a thesis.  I plan to hand out a notecard to each group that includes an encyclopedia and a keyword (ex. Capital Punishment, Facebook, Autism).  The goal is to find as many broader, narrower, and related terms using the encyclopedia as a guide.  After a few minutes, I will ask to students to share their findings with the class, making a point to ask them if they found any terms that surprised them.



“I have a bad feeling about this…”

So, this is my first blog entry for my new instruction internship with Gorgas Information Services!  Is there a word that encompasses both a sense of overwhelming terror AND mounting excitement?  Hysterical, I think would be the word, but in a totally good way.  I’ve met with my internship coordinator, Sara Whitver, and I’ve mapped out my semester so as to keep myself on track with all my “duties” as a newly minted instruction intern.  Lesson plans, tutorials and instruction sessions, OH MY!  And while I’m a little bit overwhelmed (make that “quite”) I have found that the assigned readings given to us by Sara have been extraordinarily comforting in their own way.  For example, our reading this week, “How Do They Conduct Class?” made sure to note that good teachers/lecturers/instructors are not made by their ability to speak publicly (something I struggle with) but by their shared concern for the learner.  “Their focus is on the nature and processes of learning rather than on the performance of the instructor” (134).  So, while I may be nervous as can be, I know that if I make the focus of my internship the potential “learner” and treat my planning processes with care, then I should be prepared enough to pass on a rewarding instruction experience.  (Or so I tell myself.)