Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Big Takeaways from #AASL17

I have returned from three days communing with my library peeps and tweeps at the AASL conference in Phoenix carrying a (way too pricey) book of the new AASL standards, a little schwag, some signed picture books, a couple of Google docs of notes, lots of links to presentations, and a timeline of tweets highlighting the sessions I attended.

On Saturday I had an opportunity for a lengthy conversation with my friend and colleague Michelle Luhtala about news literacy. If you are an attendee of Michelle's edWeb webinars then you know this is an important topic to us both that we frequently discuss on and off the air! This private conversation was a warm-up to our presentation, delivered along with our other friends and colleagues Joyce Valenza and Shannon Miller, about helping students develop the research skills that are critical in the digital information age. You can access our slides and join our padlet community to continue the conversation and research curation around this topic.

We arrived in Phoenix on Thursday with a presentation outline ready to be delivered on Saturday. In the interim, we spent some intense time both in and out of conference sessions examining the newly released and much anticipated standards. This release necessitated a revisiting of our presentation which we were pleased to discover aligned with the shared foundations. Given our focus on research, we emphasized "Inquiry" and "Curate," and, as happens with most standards, found that the others (Include, Collaborate, Explore and Engage) were infused throughout our conversation because of the natural interweaving through the domains (Think, Create, Share, Grow). I took this coincidence as validation of both the development of solid inquiry models in our respective districts and thoughtfully developed standards that reflect the needs of learners and educators striving to be critical thinkers in the digital information age.

The Inquiry Model that informs my instruction has five phases. Each phase is a step in the process from topic selection to final product, and each step is infused with opportunities for students to collaborate and reflect.

Step 1: Wonder - Topic Identification & Question Formulation

What do I...

  • wonder about? (curiosity)
  • wish I could change? (problem solve)
  • wish I understood better? (critical thinking)

How can I...

  • generate possible questions?
  • provide innovative solutions to authentic problems?
  • pose a clear, well-developed research question?

Question Generation Protocols


  • Have I solicited feedback from other people about the scope of my questions?
  • Have I discussed or brainstormed about my topic or the problem I am trying to solve with other people studying a similar or related topic?

Reflection and Metacognition

  • Regarding Time Management
  • Have I planned backwards from the due date to give myself progress check points along the way?
  • How do I schedule my homework?
  • How can I fit regular work sessions into my plan?
  • Would work days in class be helpful to me or are they not productive time?
  • How can I capitalize on meeting, conferencing, and collaboration in order to get the input or inspiration that will help me?

Step 2: Curate: Locate All Relevant Media

Where will I:
  • gather background information and begin my investigation?
  • locate information from multiple and differentiated quality sources?
How can I:
  • “tweak” my search terms as needed?
  • find a range of sources in various types of media to be sure I am including a wide range of perspectives?
Finding What You Need
Accumulate Good Search Terms
  • Start with Wikipedia
  • Imagine your dream source: what words would be in it?
  • Already found a good source? What new keywords does it contain for you?
  • What are synonyms for the keywords you already have?
School and Local Resources
  • Destiny
  • Our Databases
  • ResearchITCT
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Wilton Library Association

Make Google Do Your Heavy Lifting
  • Site searching
  • Search by Filetype
  • Go back in time
  • Use Advanced search for truncation, wildcard, and Boolean operators
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Books

Extending Your Search
  • Move past reference sources into scholarly and primary using Advanced search functions
  • Mine the citations from a good source you have already found
  • Search by author; who is an authority on your subject? Who is the author of good sources you have already consulted?
  • Stop searching… can you interview an expert?
  • HASHTAGS! What advocacy organizations, interest groups, think tanks or other agencies address your topic? What hashtags are associated with the topic? Start trolling social media!
  • If I am trying to solve a problem through my research, have I identified and interviewed stakeholders who represent a range of perspectives on or experiences with the problem I am addressing?
  • Have I asked someone to challenge my conclusions and help me expose how my own biases might interfere with my research?

Reflection and Metacognition
  • About Reading & Note Making Strategies:
  • How is the content reading going?
  • Have I learned anything (content or process) from my secondary source reading and primary document examinations?
  • How have my presuppositions been challenged?
  • Am I allowing my preconceptions to be challenged?
  • Are my views changing?
  • When I read HOW did I read?
  • Do I print out the documents or read them on line?
  • What did I do to prepare to read them? how did I know what to look for or focus on?
  • If I printed them out, did I have paper to make notes one while and after I read?
  • If I read them on line, did I copy them into a file where I could annotate such as Google Docs?
  • If I highlight is it just to keep my eyes focused on the page? How do I know what to highlight?
  • What do I write down? what questions do I ask? what do I write about when I finish reading?
  • If the document is long, do I read it in sections? What do I do at the end of each section?

Step 3: Explore the Information Superhighway: Evaluating Sources

How can I:
  • assess the authority, accuracy, relevance and purpose of my sources?
  • organize my notes and know that my consideration of perspectives is thorough?
  • include multiple and informed perspectives?
The Information Superhighway

Thinking Like a Fact-Checker

Reverse Image Searching

Citing Your Sources
  • Noodletools
  • OWL Purdue

  • What changes have I made in response to feedback from other people? How did I undertake those changes? How did they improve my work?
  • Is there any perspective I have yet to consult? Who can help me access this point-of-view?

Reflection Questions about Critical Thinking:
  • What are the major content/critical thinking/writing issues that I have been confronted with in this project?
  • How well do I understand the content/substance of what I have been thinking about for this project?
  • What is my plan or strategy to address issues I am encountering with this project? Is this plan similar to the plans I have used in the past? How, and why, did I know these steps would work? Is my plan working?
  • What do I think my main goals should be as a thinker given what you have experienced so far in this class? Why are these my goals?
  • What is my criteria for quality work? What areas of the rubrics are still unclear to me? How am I attempting to reach clarity about these areas?
  • What was the most important thing I have learned about yourself as a thinker so far?

Step 4: Create an Argument: Applying Learning

How can I:
  • select and effectively use tools to organize myself?
  • synthesize what I have learned from my research?
  • create an arguable thesis?
Tools & Techniques:
For Your Thesis:

For Citations, Note Organizing and Outlining:
  • Noodletools
For Outlining, Webbing & Other Planning Strategies:

  • From whom did I solicit feedback on my thesis and/or my outline? Why?
  • What feedback did I incorporate? How did it improve my plan?
  • How might my opinions have had an impact on whether or not I stayed open to conflicting information?
  • How did I check myself to be sure I held my bias loosely?

Step 5: Communicate, Share & Grow

When deciding how to share what I have learned, how will I consider my:
  • audience?
  • message?
  • purpose?
And create a product that meets all of these needs?
How can I take informed action?
Things to Consider:
  • Whom am I trying to reach (who is my audience)?
  • How do those people most frequently access information? Why?
  • What is the best media for conveying my evidence and conclusions? Consider:
    • Do I need photographs or other artist renderings?
    • Do I need data visualization?
    • Are voices, music, or other auditory files important to understanding my message?
    • Is there a need for video footage?
    • How much text do I have? Does it require hyperlinks or interactivity?
  • How will my product reach my audience?
    • Will it live on a website?
    • Post to a video sharing forum like YouTube?
    • Be delivered via email?
    • Exist in printed form?
    • Be performed or delivered to a live audience?
    • Something else?
  • How will the talents of my team combine to create a successful product or presentation?
 Frankly, as much as the announcement of the new AASL standards validated and encouraged this research process as a model for working with high school students, the keynote address by Google Education Evangelist from Hell's Kitchen, Jamie Casap, inspired the bulk of my tweets as well as the metacognitive food for thought that nourished me through lots of sessions and late nights in Phoenix.

I work with high school students so I don't think I have ever asked a student what s/he wants to be when s/he grows up. But, I have certainly asked, "what will you do after graduation?" or "what do you want to study?" Still, Jamie's question: "what problem do you want to solve?" not only by-passes the issue that we have no idea what jobs will even be possible for our students when they "grow up;" it also infuses students with empathy and agency. I know if there are two qualities I hope my teenagers have or develop it is empathy and agency!
And so, I return to our inquiry model and ask: at every stage, are students developing empathy and agency? Will they graduate from four years working with these protocols prepared to engage with other people's point of views, able to gather (with fidelity) the insight and opinions of stakeholders, and apply themselves to solving the problems in their communities in the interest of improving the educational, socioeconomic, political or environmental  conditions of their day?

As long as I can keep answering yes to those questions, then I know I am on the right path.

1 comment:

  1. After reading the article "Research in the Digital Age", I was inspired to follow
    the five step system to encourage all my students who enter our Learning Common. We have just renovated our library and now students are flocking to the new area. Teachers and myself are re-educating students to be inquisitive, creative, work in groups, curate information using classroom sets of chromebooks. The library has become a haven for the students. We will now let our students use the smartboards to display and relay new information they have acquired.No longer do we have strict rules in the library and wide open space vs. closed in classroom there is no comparison. I love technology and I wonder what the future will provide. I will also have our students create their own 1 minute videos on engage,explore,curate,collaborate, include and inquire . Thank you for your assistance. KLB JRHS Library Learning Common -Quebec, Canada.