Monday, April 7, 2014

UbD - What is a Library?

I'm well into the second week of my AASL online course, and I now have to begin planning a unit using what I have learned thus far.  Fortunately, I was given a relevant, exciting idea by the grade 2 teachers who recently requested I tie library instruction into their current unit of inquiry "Communities are organised based on the needs and wants of people".  I am supposed to guide students in examining the roles libraries play in communities, perhaps looking at different libraries around the world.

Immediately my thoughts jumped to making lists of wants and needs, watching the Biblioburro, learning about library arrangement, reading My Librarian is a Camel.... Yes, I was full of all kinds of activities.  I have to STOP this habit and think ... what is the big idea that I want students to carry with them?  

I've identified the Enduring Understanding (or big idea) as "Libraries are organized based on the needs and wants of their patrons" and our guiding questions are What does a library need? and What is the role of a library within a community?

I'm sure these will undergo some revision, but I have to start somewhere.

Unfortunately, I am just getting started writing the unit, and I am supposed to already start teaching... so I am already ignoring what I am learning about designing the end first and I jumped into the pre-assessment.   I figure it will make for some good reflection fodder.

This week I asked each grade 2 class to answer the question "What is a library?"

I tried this in small groups on sticky notes.  
I tried it with larger groups and half sheets of beautifully colored paper. 
And then I tried creating a mind map with a whole class on a flip chart.  

Each time I saw the same results.  

Hands-down, without fail, each class answered the question the same:
  A library is a place to check out books.  

A few students added, without prompting, it could be a quiet place to read.  

That was it.  

I really had to work to get anyone to look deeper, to think about other resources, to see other uses for the space.  I couldn't believe these children, who visit this fabulous, well-resourced facility, had such a limited definition.  But we have only just begun...

I've worked for administrators who operated under the same limited definition that a library was just a place to check out books.  No matter what I said or did, their views did not broaden.

But this time I'm armed with BIG IDEAS.  And I'm working with children who are used to thinking deeply.  They expect to have their understandings expand.

The idea of educating a new generation of thinkers on the full potential of a library is exhilarating.   Let's get started! 

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