Carrie Grimshaw is the Library Media Specialist at Leicester High School
and the recipient of a 2016 President's Award
One of my main goals since becoming the Library Media Specialist was to teach library databases lessons to students. I teach these lessons to all Freshmen who take Technology Integration course, AP sciences courses, and more. I use the amazing free databases provided from MA Libraries. During my lessons, which I always connect with the curriculum, I show students different databases and limiting search techniques. I usually demonstrate searching on Academic One File, Biography in Context, History in Context while the students follow along. Some of the searching techniques that I teach are boolean searching, using the advance search option in search bar to limit by date, peer reviewed, images, and full text, and more. If I have extra time with the students then I will show them how to get a Boston Public Library ECard. Once students are registered, they will have access to a plethora of electronic resources including the New York Times. All Gale databases have incorporated Google drive into their databases. Students are able to log into their Google Accounts and download and share any article that they find to their Drive.
Google Drive has complete changed our school. Last year, students were given Google accounts and have using Google like it is going out of style. All of our students have learned to use Gmail, Drive, Docs (like Word), Sheets (like Excel), Slides (like Powerpoint). The sharing opportunities with docs makes Google Drive useful in the classroom. Student can share their work with teachers and teachers can comment back in real time. In addition, group work is made even easier when student share their work and use google docs like a chat room from yesteryear technology. It is amazing and like I said has transformed our school. The general culture of the school is very modern now that we have switched to Google everything and with 1:1 scheduled to have happen next year, we are 21st century learning all of the time.
I love Google and drink the kool aid like everybody else does but there are some words of caution that I would like to state. First, there are other websites in the world besides Google. I feel like students go to Google for everything. In my database lessons, I usually ask students to define peer reviewed by going to Merriam Webster dictionary instead of using Google. This is an exercise to show them that there are other websites out there to use. Also, Google Research is a feature of Google Docs and if students use this they must understand that it gives them the citation information in APA format in footnotes not MLA format. In addition, they can get the citation information without even having to open up the document because it conveniently loads all on one page. Another caution that I would like to point out is for school not to have technology just for the sake of having technology (it has to be used in the right way to enhance learning). A San Diego school highlighted in Teaching Tolerance gave examples of when technology was not used to aid learning but more as an activity, “Putting kids on skill practice games for crowd control or simply to engage kids in something… Sticking all kids on an app where they are just having fun but not rigorously learning…asking students to take hours to make fun videos for school projects without weighing the implications for student learning…. Replacing a hands on lab activity with an online lab activity in science to avoid the mess and materials without evaluating the pros and cons” (pg.39). These examples show that having technology and not using it to enhance learning is not the point of why technology and 1:1 devices are being given to student throughout the country. In order to use technology as an interactive, educational tool that is a creative outlet and enhances learning, more professional development must be done so that teachers know how to use technology in the classroom in order to meet this criteria. I plan to co-teach another Best Practice in June with another tech savvy teacher in my district so that more faculty have training on this.
Being a Library Media Specialist in a high school is a very busy, hard, and rewarding job. I stay on top of technology because I want my library program to be successful, modern, and in the know. I have added a Cricut machine as a makerspace for students and for faculty to use for their bulletin boards. In addition, I have a ‘Now Playing’ display with book covers and QR codes on them that links to the movie trailers which the students love. I want the library to be an inviting place where students can come to learn to use new technology and a place for them to study.