So, as the year gets into full swing and I am designing my lessons, one questions keeps echoing in my mind; how much time should I focus on basic library skills? In this era of Library Media, fewer than 1/4 of my standards support these skills – knowledge of the sections of the library, using the OPAC, text features, library procedures, understanding the difference between nonfiction and fiction, how the Dewey Decimal System works, and literature genres, just to name a few. In most curriculum maps I have seen, these items are taught, reinforced, and allegedly ‘mastered’ within the first few weeks and then aren’t looked at again until the next school year.
The reason this question keeps surfacing is I’m curious: am I doing my students a disservice by not properly teaching and reinforcing this throughout the year? I mean, we have a lot of standards to focus on and while some of these basic skills are supported in other areas, many do not and are instead considered ‘ongoing standards’. However, I am not necessarily retesting these skills throughout the year. I am nearing the end of my focus on library skills and ready to jump into new exciting STEAM projects and worry is creeping into my mind that I am not doing my job as a media specialist.
How often should I be refreshing students on these skills? Should I have mini-lessons throughout the year to spot check that students are keeping these skills sharpened? This last week, my lesson ended up being a skills check via Kahoot and I was shocked at how little had been retained already from the previous several weeks. How can I possibly feel that this has been a mastered subject?
I will admit, I have been trying a different approach in my lessons this year. I have been trying a more ‘self discovery’ method of teaching in which I provide tasks for students to complete by problem solving . Providing them with information that they have to apply. For example, when discussing parts of the book, after a self-guided introductory lesson on the iPads, students worked in teams to assemble a book from scratch with no guidance. All they had was the information they learned from the intro and discussion with each other.
The students have enjoyed the hands-on approach to things because I’m not ‘talking at them’ quite as much but I am concerned they are missing relevant pieces. In the ‘Build-a-Book’ lesson I referenced, very few of the end products looked the way they were supposed to. So, while fun, was it as effective as it should have been? I do think that the Kahoot skills check did provide me the opportunity to highlight the important information they may have missed but shouldn’t the actual lessons be providing that and not a follow up?
I am excited for the next chapter and phase in my year since I will be delving into STEAM for the first time, but I don’t want to fail my students on the basics. I want to balance everything and provide a thorough but not exhaustive education. So, as I end this post, I want to invite your opinions on the topic. How often do you teach and review these skills. How important do you feel they are in the grand scheme of things?