on my research factory …

'Factory Scenes : Consolidated/Convair Aircraft Factory San Diego' photo (c) 2010, SDASM Archives - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/

Aaaaarrrggggghhhhh!!!

What am I doing?!?!?!?

We are in the final throes of our arc of 7th grade library research lessons.  We see every 7th grader for twelve classes at the beginning of the year.  Over the course of twelve lessons, we take them through a mini research project.  We “cover” the Big6; use of encyclopedias, reference books, and regular non-fiction books; using an index; skimming/scanning, and taking notes; using Noodletools; searching the Destiny catalog; building an outline; and writing. Whew!!! There is also a stand-alone introduction to databases and database searching at the end of the arc.

Here’s the thing that makes me crazy. Our need to fit all those skills into the time that we have is fine for the bulk of our kids, but I’m always left feeling like I’m failing those kids that really take the task to heart and want to do a really good job of researching.

Today’s lesson included searching the Destiny catalog; finding a book on your topic, checking it out, and locating the bibliographic information.  Most of my class had no problem getting it done during our 40-minute period, but three of my kids had 3-4 books out and were browsing to see which one would work bests for their topics–exactly what you want a kid to do, right?  I found myself having to push them to just choose a book that would work for their immediate information need.  Yes, sometimes you just have to get a job done, but is that the big theme for what I want them to remember and internalize from my lesson?  I’m left feeling like I’m teaching the right content, but I’m setting myself up to fail because my kids are learning the wrong lessons.

I’m lucky in that I’ll be able to work with these kids again (numerous times) over the next three years when they come in to work on projects with their content area classes, but … It sure is hard to get that frustrating sickly feeling in your stomach to go away.

I wish it didn’t feel so much like I was working in a research factory …

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