As a child so very long ago in the era now known as the “Days of Yore” my teachers used to ask us to write about what we did over our glorious 3 months of summer vacation. Here at Mid-Pacific our students return in the second week of August so we have been in session for about six weeks, but like delayed coverage of the Olympics in Rio, this post comes to you “plausibly live.” Whatever … Just go with it and pretend we’re all just coming back to school.
What I did On My Most Excellent Summer Vacation
Story and Pictures by Dave Wee
Getting a Running Start into the Summer – My most excellent summer vacation actually started in the two weeks before the end of last school year. After many scheduling hiccups, the head of our high school Social Studies Department gave us an hour of department meeting time to share library resources and discuss information instruction goals. I had been trying to schedule this meeting since returning to campus after the AISL Spring Conference in LA. I returned extremely excited about working to re-vision our information instruction curriculum around the “source literacy” concept that Nora Murphy from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy presented during her breakout session. For a variety of reasons our meeting didn’t materialize until the second to last week of school, but in the end the timing could not have been better! Presenting our new information literacy instruction goals to our teachers just before they went off on their summers, put our goals at the forefront of their minds just as they went off to do their planning and curriculum development for this school year. I greatly underestimated how much planning our teachers do over the summer!
In this meeting we let teachers know that our goals were to move our information literacy instruction beyond formatting, NoodleTools, and works cited lists and really work more deeply at making source evaluation and source literacy a more authentic part of the learning experience. As part of this transition, we showed teachers a prototype of a student “source literacy bank” that we want to implement going forward, and asked teachers lay a foundation for that endeavor by asking students to build annotated works cited lists rather than our traditional works cited lists as a way to heighten students’ awareness of the importance of source evaluation.
Kupu Hou Academy – Mid-Pacific Institute, where I work, is a PK-12 school that is heavily committed to project-based, deeper learning. As part of that movement, Mid-Pacific sponsors an intensive 4-day workshop to help educators develop actual project-based learning experiences that they will then implement during the next school year. During the first week of June, I had an opportunity to participate in the Kupu Hou Academy experience. While Kupu Hou is open to educators from all over, many of my Mid-Pacific colleagues from the elementary, middle, and high schools attend so it gave me an opportunity to work alongside many of my Mid-Pacific colleagues of all levels and informally (and formally) let my colleagues know… ” We can help you with this part next year! Let’s schedule some library sessions!”
AISL Summer Institute: Design Thinking @ Your Library – After Kupu Hou and a short stint as summer school librarian, I was incredibly fortunate to attend the AISL summer institute that the illustrious Madame President Katie Archambault of The Emma Willard School hosted up in Troy, NY. If you have not yet seized the opportunity to attend one of our colleague-hosted summer institutes, do yourself a favor and just go! All the cool librarians are there! My group, Melinda Holmes, Marsha Hawkins, Stan Burke, and myself, explored the question, “How might we make our information instruction more user-centric?”
Goodness! Exploring a question like that with three amazing library colleagues was exhausting, but also incredibly helpful! Regretfully, I cannot remember from which teammate it came, but the single most helpful thing that came out of my all of my experiences this summer is that one of the librarians on our team offhandedly said, “I teach that sources are people, not things…”
Think about that, librarians!
“Sources are people, not things…”
In true Ted Talk fashion, when something is incredibly insightful and significant the speaker always says it twice with a pause in between so the audience can think about it.
“Sources are people, not things…”
That statement has actually become one of the linchpins of our source evaluation instruction here at Mid-Pacific! No more acronyms or checklists. We’re now teaching students to be mindful of the fact that since “Sources are people, not things…” before we use content we find in our searching we need to evaluate the creators’ qualifications as an “expert” in relation to the question(s) that we are asking. When you think about it, that’s about 80% of source evaluation in a nutshell!
Coming Full Circle and Back-to-School – We have been fortunate to have frosh Social Studies/Humanities teachers get on board and they are giving us an opportunity to present this basic framework for source evaluation to all of our frosh before they begin their first major research projects this year. We’re now well on our way to rolling this out as an 85-minute block period lesson this quarter.
So that is what I did over my summer vacation. I absolutely love my job and love my colleagues! I get to come to work at a place where classroom teachers, our administrators, our educational technology teachers, and our IT services staff all work to make learning happen. It really is a WONDERFUL THING!
This is good because … alas … My 5 quick picks tickets failed to win me the enormous Powerball Lottery jackpot this summer…
Welcome back to school, everyone!