This week I am teaching two EN101 classes. The classes are Shakespeare themed. On Monday, I am planning on showing them how to use Bubble, an online mind mapping software that can be used to brainstorm for assignments. In addition, I will show them the World Shakespeare Bibliography database so that they can find reviews for their assignment. I plan on having people share their mind maps a little over half way through the class, and then I will switch to helping them navigate the online databases and internet to find reviews and resources for the Shakespeare adaptations they are researching. This is the first time that I will teach one hour and fifteen minute classes, so I am hoping that I manage my time well. I sometimes have trouble visualizing how long things will take in real time. I’ve been planning this lesson plan with my time chunked out into increments, and I am hopeful that the class goes smoothly.
This weekend I am preparing to teach for the first time in around six months or so. It is always nerve wracking getting back into the classroom after a long time without teaching. I am preparing to teach scout searching, keyword development, an introduction to library resources, and critically evaluating sources. My favorite thing to teach in the library classroom is source evaluation. This time, with the help of another librarian, I am helping the students learn to “read laterally.” I had not heard this term before this week, but it turns out I have been reading laterally all along. Basically, reading laterally helps students to determine source authority and accuracy by requiring them to read other sources from different venues to compare information on an issue rather than just fact checking and researching within the same website. Here is a link to a Stanford study about reading laterally. I am super excited to implement this in the classroom. I will be reporting back later on how this goes.
Rose is writing in 1985, but some of his concerns could easily apply to the university today as well. Freshman composition is often still treated as a place for student’s writing to be “remediated.” Writing instructors are still underpaid, and the position is not always valued. Rose works to problematize the words “illiteracy” and “remediation” in this article. Rose’s history of the term “illiteracy” was very illuminating. It was interesting to learn that the original Census counted anyone as literate who could write their name. The meaning of illiteracy has changed many times since then, with one of the later definitions meaning anyone who can read and write at sixth grade level. He realizes “how caught up we all are in a political-semantic web that restricts the way we think about the place of writing in the academy at the way people in academia” (342). He argues that to use the terms illiteracy and remediation are exclusionary, and that we can take steps to prioritize writing in the classroom in ways that do not stigmatize those whose writing does not meet academia’s stringent standards. I also found his section on the evolution of how we describe dyslexia to be interesting. I do agree that we should be careful about the words we use to describe how students may struggle with writing.
Reading Friere’s book has made me realize that much of my K12 education, along with a good bit of my undergraduate degree was, was based in more of a banking module of teaching than than open dialogue and critical discussion. In particular, I reflected on how my history courses tended to emphasize memorization over thinking critically about the events in history and what caused them (as well as emphasizing avoiding discussion of whether events could have been avoided or ended differently). I particularly liked the quotation that explained how in “any situation in which “A” objectively exploits “B” or hinders his or her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression.” This could apply broadly to more than just teaching. Many situations in this current day and age either outright or implicitly oppress people in our society. It is funny to think that this book was published over 50 years ago and many of the situations that it criticizes are still the same.
I taught my last classes for the semester a few weeks ago. Both courses were EN101 and the goal was for them to explore their career choices using the library database. In the first class, the students did not really know what they wanted to do with their careers. I had them compare and contrast multiple fields and complete the worksheet. In the second class, the students were less talkative and they all already had a career in mind. I felt like I was not prepared enough for the contingency that the students were very straight forward and less willing to explore than the previous class. In the future, I am going to come prepared with a Plan B for when Plan A does not work out as well. I did not think on my feet well enough in the second class, and I ended up letting them out a bit early when they were not as willing to participate as the other course. This just goes to show that it’s always good to come up with a few extra plans before entering the classroom.
I just finished my second week of teaching this semester. It went pretty well, and I have been reflecting on the experience. The first class I taught was a regular section of EN102. The students had to find both peer-reviewed and popular sources in order to complete a research essay. In the first section, I focused more on Scout than on any other database. For evaluating sources, I had them get in groups and discuss articles that I found. They had to find out everything they could about pre-selected materials. This session went really well, and the students were engaged. In this session, I did a mostly anonymous Kahoot quiz to see what the students knew before I explained how to do source evaluation. It was interesting to be able to compare how they responded on the quiz to how they responded at the end of class while evaluating sources for the final time. I will definitely be utilizing Kahoot in the future. I felt like this activity was particularly successful because of the conversations we had in class about who is an authority when writing an article. Many of the students were confused about exactly what made someone an authority, and I hope I clarified that for them in this session. We talked about how Ted Talks don’t necessarily make someone an authority. We also talked about the fact that just because someone does write for a popular news source does not mean all of their writing is reliable (ie someone who writes for Forbes, but has their own personal blog for political ramblings).
This issue has 6 articles that focus on instruction in some capacity. The first article in the issue is called “The Reconquista Student”. It focuses on a librarian’s experience in the classroom when confronted with a student who openly espouses white nationalist, misogynist, or other bigoted view points. It explores ways to respond to these outbursts. In
“Transformative? Integrative? Troublesome?,” the researchers survey students about the six thresholds of information literacy. They determine that teachers of information literacy should directly involve students in their teaching and research practices. Students offer valuable insights that the researchers may not know about if they do not consult with them. In
“Library Experience and Information Literacy Learning of First Year International Students: An Australian Case Study,” the researchers seek to understand how international students interact with the library and how they feel about the approaches to information literacy the the librarians use. The researchers do a case study in which they have surveyed and interviewed international students to see what works and what changes need to be made to improve their library experiences. In
“SoTL in the LIS Classroom,” the researchers argue that it is important to introduce librarians in training to the concepts of SoTL like the “four critical stages of SoTL training: Exposure, Encounter, Engagement, and Extension.” By doing so, they argue that it will make the LIS students more well rounded and prepared academic librarians.
Overall, much of the work in this article is based on case studies, surveys, and in-person interviews. The overall loose theme of all of these articles is that student outcomes can be improved when teachers engage with them and ask them what works for them and what doesn’t. All four articles are based on working with people and coming up with solutions so that everyone’s information literacy skills and library experience is improved.
Of the eight articles in this issue, four of them are either focused on library instruction or tangentially related to it. In “The Pedagogical Promise of Primary Sources,” the authors examine primary source usage in the classroom and include an overview of the topic from past to present. They use key word searches to explore several databases. The authors conclude that primary source usage in the library classroom has increased over time and yielded pedagogical benefits. In “Talent, Schmalent,” the authors interrogate the idea that people are just “naturally” good at teaching. They push back against the idea that being able to teach is an “innate” gift and explore literature on the subject. In “Building Intercultural Teachers,” the authors discuss how information literacy and library instructions should keep in mind that international students may need different learning approaches. They offer some solutions for engaging international students in the classroom. Lastly, the journal includes a “perspective piece” on Wikipedia in the classroom. It argues that students are already using Wikipedia, so librarians should come into the classroom with this in mind and embrace Wikipedia. The authors find it odd that more librarians aren’t writing about Wikipedia, and they argue that it can be a useful pedagogical tool.
All four articles do an overview of the literature on their subject to date to prove that it either hasn’t been discussed enough, or to show how much their topic has changed. The articles discuss pedagogical approaches and conceptions that we may have about teachers or students. Most are writing the articles either because there is an existing gap in the literature or because they want to trace changes in the literature over time.
I chose this article because I felt that it related pretty closely to the grand narratives article from last week. I particularly enjoy case studies, and I liked that this article was less theoretical and based more in the classroom. I think that it is super important for students to learn to question early in their academic career what they think about authority and reliable source. It was interesting to see what the students in this article thought about Wikipedia. I have only had one instructor point out that there are different tiers of reliability marked on Wikipedia articles, and it is helps to judge the reliability of the article. I also found it striking that 14% of students thought that just because they found the source through a university’s search function / scholarly database that it was a reliable source. One of the librarians that I observed pointed out to his students that academic articles are sometimes not reliable and are later retracted. This kind of thing is super useful for students to know, and I definitely plan to keep the concepts from this article in mind when teaching next semester.
Frank’s chapter argues that we as instructors need to break down grand narratives and help students to question the narratives they are sold. In one section, she talks about how encyclopedias are compiled by people influenced by grand narratives and given authority by being placed on a library’s shelf. In one of the classes I observed at the beginning of the semester, a student questioned how a dictionary could be biased when the librarian said that pretty much everything can have a bias. The librarian explained that it was possible for a dictionary to have bias. This article brought me back to this conversation and reinforced why it is such an important conversation to have. It is so vital for students to be given the opportunity to explore multiple perspectives and realize that even something like an encyclopedia or a dictionary can be a part of a “grand narrative” and not representative of everyone and every experience.