One at a Time
Yep, that’s me. Nudging these kids, one a time, to access current, vetted resources through the myriad of Google alternatives residing on the school library website! If you are like me and see large classes of middle school students each week, but seldom get to spend quality time with each student individually during it, you might have discovered that sometimes your database sales pitch simply works best in the rare moments that simply present themselves, as opposed to the en masse approach in class. It’s what I am up to these days, and it’s pretty fun.
It happens every week: twenty-odd 7th graders leave one of my digital citizenship classes looking a little worn out from another long day of school (I have all my middle school classes last period!), and I despair that hardly a one really got the message about using the current, accessible, relevant and trustworthy resources available to them through the library. I pin the links everywhere--the library site, the shared class docs, the e-newsletter to families each month, on hand-outs at the circulation desk and signs at the desktops--seriously, I can’t get enough. But I still worry that these kids aren’t paying attention and using them enough. So I have a new technique.
The first part of it is being aware when opportunities are presenting themselves for the database sneak-attack. Instead of continuing on with what I am doing--shelving, processing a book, planning the next day’s lessons, insert-another-task-here--I force myself to connect with the student who has just meandered in. I casually say hi, ask if he or she is reading any good books lately...then, I go for the gold...I find out what kind of research project is going on in a core subject. And, just like that, I have that kid hooked to come on over to the computers so I can showcase the perfect resource we have for whatever topic was just mentioned.
I have done it twice today. Now, I could get depressed that the 8th graders last period seemed to be Googling too much to find research for their class newspaper pieces, but instead I am going to look for the positive in the afternoon--that after lunch I got two students using VT Online for their up-to-the-minute research on designer babies. That was awesome. They were into it. They “never knew this stuff was here, Mrs. Eckhardt!” Um, okay, I’ve been carrying on about it all fall, but whatever. They joined the ranks of database users at Danville School and I am thrilled. So are they. Their research projects will be awesome.
So, that’s my goal--to quietly and simply hook a kid or two a day on database usage. No, it’s not a lot. No it doesn’t make the earth shake in some instantaneously noticeable way. But it does change things--the flow of accurate information, students’ understandings and perceptions, the quality of their work...and pretty soon it might just be a normal thing that the whole upper school is bonkers about using databases instead of the www at large. I could get back to that pile of books that need covering, or that shelf-reading...nah, I’ll probably just ask to read their final papers.
-Kristen Eckhardt, M.Ed, LMS
Danville School Library