Sunday, February 4, 2018

Why Personalize Library

Whenever I get an incredible idea, I go through some pretty predictable stages.  Excitement, fatigue, panic, and then calm.  I get incredibly excited about the the students' potential excitement and how much fun I think it will be to teach, I get a bit fatigued from the planning and finding resources.  This inevitably leads me to panic: do I have too many or enough resources, how will I make sure I'll differentiate, do I have enough time, am I designing the learning in a way that actually leads to the end goal, and usually how am I going to do this one thing that is super important to me?  The calm usually comes after I have found someone to talk to about my ideas and this one thing that I'm most likely stuck on and need to figure out.

Most recently, this has happened with an idea that I am working on for my second graders; my vision for our school library. If you read my last post then you know that I am all about finding a way to make the library a place where students can do whatever they want.  I deliberately chose to test drive this idea with my second graders because I see them twice a week and have pretty decent idea of what skills I want them to walk away with by the end of the school year.  But before I chose who to try this idea out with, I started with the why.

Why is it necessary to change learning in the library?  

  1. The whole group lesson is dead. All of the children who sit in front of us at any given time don't always need the exact same information delivered in the same way.  Even if you are teaching the same skill. As a classroom teacher, I have developed 2 or 3 completely different lessons to teach the same skill or to progress my students based on their background knowledge or previously acquired skills.  
  2. Gen Alpha students are not millennials or even Gen Y.  When I had taught Gen Y students the mini-lesson worked pretty well.  They could sit and attend for a good 10 - 20 minutes while I taught some lofty skills.  Gen Alpha students would really rather go off on their own or with a partner and get started.  They are quite accustomed to finding how-to videos that they can watch as often as they need to get the necessary skill under their belt and then apply it.  After all, this is exactly what they do when they play Minecraft and other video games.
  3. What is more authentic learning than the learning that students choose to do?  IMHO I have created some incredibly engaging and dynamic units in my teaching time.  My students have written and performed their own plays, hosted poetry slams, created documentaries and more.  I remember them all enjoying the activities that I planned, the incredible focus they had during those units, and have heard from paraprofessionals that traveled with them, how much learning they carried with them after they left me.  Yet, it was all determined by me.