Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting Better

I cannot spend every Monday Molly Musing recapping my weekend meetings, despite having a lot of them. Despite this vow, a moment from my Teaching Librarian editorial board meeting ties in nicely with my recent reflections, so bear with me.

One of the agenda items from Saturday was to examine the results of our reader survey. The unfortunate part was that we only had two responses! This made it difficult to ascertain which columns need retiring, which need sprucing up, and which columns are making a difference for entertainment and education. The editors discussed possible reasons for the low response rate - no prizes offered, no clear deadline, a design that makes the task look onerous. We agreed that we would make changes to the areas we could control and redistribute the survey so we could get data that would help the magazine get better.

Using evidence to help improve our practice - this is also what I want to do with my teaching and learning. This year, I am grateful to have much more open flexible collaborative teaching time in my schedule, and I am also thankful that the teachers on my staff are willing to collaborate with me. I find it very rewarding and informative to partner up with another educator to plan, teach, and assess. I am keenly aware, however, that this arrangement is tenuous, based on many external factors, and I need to collect data that shows that collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians improve student learning. In our unit plans, I've placed a probing question at the end for us to tackle, so that individual teachers and partnerships can approach it in the way they are most comfortable. (I've highlighted it in red)

Collaborative Co-Teaching Plan

October – November 2013

Grade: HSP    Teachers: Maliszewski / Wong          Topic: Radio Advertisements

q  Oral Communication = 1.6: extend understanding of oral texts by connecting ideas to students’ own knowledge (Grade 5)
q  Media Literacy = 1.6: identify who produces media, the reason, purpose, audience and funding (Grade 5)
q  OLA Information Studies =

End Goals
By the end of the unit, students will
  • Create a podcast of a radio announcement
  • Show they understand media terminology such as logo / slogan (jingle)
  • Identify companies in product advertisements

Schedule:        Day 2 Period 4 – one 30 minute period

Timeline (Lessons)

Week 1
Wed. Oct. 9/13
What is media?
-          Review definition of media
-          Play game
-          Make connection: “by people” = media producers
Find suitable game to play (DM &KW)
Week 2
Fri. Oct. 18/13

What is a logo? How is it used in ads?
-          Explain the definition of logo & purpose (A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization (a logotype or wordmark).
-          Play logo identification game
Bring in logo iPad
game to play (KW)

Week 3

What is a slogan / jingle? How are they used in ads?
-          Where can we find ads?
-          Distinguish between advertisements that are visual & only oral? How do those ads identify their producer?
-          Define & brainstorm slogans / jingles
Interview students to confirm understanding of media, logo, media producer (KW)
Collect slogans / jingles (DM)
Week 4
What are the characteristics of a radio ad?
-          Listen to radio ads
-          Determine how long they are, what is included (e.g. dialogue, music, sound effects)
-          Make list of characteristics
Collect radio ads or locate online stations (KW & DM)
Take notes of student comments (DM)
Week 5
What are the techniques and technology needed to make an effective radio ad?
-          Explore using either Garage Band or Audacity
-          Challenge students to mimic techniques heard in sample radio ads heard last week
-          List persuasive techniques used to make an ad more effective

Week 6

How do we make our own radio ads?
-          Distribute assignment, include rubric created based on comments from weeks 3-5 on characteristics, producer, persuasive techniques, etc.)
Write project description & rubric (KW & DM)

  • Rubric for evaluating final product (podcast recording of radio ad)
  • Conferences with individual students to check for understanding of media terminology
  • End-of-unit interview to confirm comprehension of media concepts

How do we evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher-librarian presence in this unit? 

I happened to mention my struggle via email to a great mentor of mine, the amazing Carol Koechlin. Carol was my Librarianship Part 1, 2 and 3 AQ instructor, and continues to support school librarianship in Canada even though she claims to be retired. This is the feedback she gave me on how to collect evidence to help me get better as a teacher-librarian working in conjunction with classroom teachers.

Great to hear that you have more time to work with teachers. I would like to suggest that you tweak your reflective question a bit to take the emphasis off you specifically and put it on the collaboration with you. So something like this, 'How do we collect evidence that our teaching partnership in the learning commons on this unit makes a difference in the students' learning of content and skills?' I think you will both find that there are many new (information, thinking, digital, media...) skills students acquire or get better at. When this happens students then have the ability to reach deeper understanding of content than they would otherwise have done. I bet you have had teachers say to you many times after an experience with you in the library..."I didn't know my kids were capable of that!" Try to get your partner teacher to think about how many more of their students achieved a bit higher than they normally do in the classroom. Of course the library space, resources and technologies also factor favourably into the formula but that is good to document too because it is all part of the benefit of collaborating with you. Ask the partner teacher and yourself, what were the benefits for you, what did you learn as well, did you grow as teachers? I am sure you will have students do a Big Think activity at the end of the unit and from that you will be able to gather evidence of growth right from the kids themselves.

I am really fortunate to have people like this in my Professional Learning Network to help me. I am also lucky that I have people in my school building willing to help me examine my practice to get better. For instance, two of my junior division classes recently submitted compositions for the Meaning of Home contest. EQAO results have indicated that our students need more work on their writing, and so my initial inquiry unit with them sought to build their background knowledge to help them write in a way that reflected more than a superficial reaction to the topic. As part of our investigations and explorations, I had one of our Early Childhood Educators guest-teach the class using a lesson she experienced as part of a week-long course she took on homelessness. She has been very curious about how the student compositions have turned out, so I have someone that I can show the results (which were decidedly mixed in quality), brainstorm potential factors that led to the results, and contemplate next steps to take in my instruction so I can help the students get better. It's nice to know I won't be alone.

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