Growing Researchers: An Action Plan Update

I feel like I’ve been working up to this year’s action plan for quite a while. In some way, the majority of my past plans have come at the issue it is designed to address, in different ways.

Information literacy instruction in Grade 9, leveraging learning partnerships, and increasing my use of feedback in one-shot library instruction were all aspects of the same problem which, when stated as a ‘how might we,’ would go something like this: how might we ensure students have the research skills they need, when they need them?

As we always say at Cohort, it’s all about getting in front of the right question. So I was so excited to tackle this thorny one in the most direct way I could think of: through an overhaul of our library’s scope and sequence. My goal for the end of this school year is vertically integrated research skill instruction that takes into account what students are being asked to do and learn across divisions and departments, resulting in a scope and sequence that reflects (and directs!) what we really do day-to-day. Not too lofty at all… 😉

To that end, I have finessed the wording of the ‘how might we’ that I’ll be using this year to how might we grow students’ competencies as researchers holistically across divisions and departments? The change in wording, I hope, will shift the emphasis to student learning and from skill acquisition to the development of core competencies that students recognize apply in multiple contexts.

So, where am I at in this not-so-humble undertaking? I’ve performed some small experiments thus far – interviewing students about their perspective, reviewing our current scope and sequence as well as library IL frameworks and standards, and reaching out to our department heads about their research assignments in compulsory courses.

I’m currently working on developing some shared language around the inquiry process, wading through curriculum documents, mapping assignments onto our scope and sequence to assess gaps, and looking for exemplars across divisions and departments. In short, I’m in the weeds. There are the ever-present time constraints, the complexities of collaborating with busy teachers, and that feeling of building the plane while you’re flying it. But I am also working on getting comfortable with discomfort and I’m so grateful for this supportive community. So, if you’ve ever been involved in this kind work at your school, please let me know in the comments! If you’re willing to share any of your school’s research or library scope and sequence documents, let’s talk!

3 thoughts on “Growing Researchers: An Action Plan Update

  1. @lmustard I wonder if you might benefit from sharing your HMW with the faculty at the next meeting. Ask for 2 min of time, share you question, revisit the “why”, ask for volunteers to help with the “HOW”. I think you will be surprised by how many passionate volunteers you get. You might get even more traction if offer to build these tools for them. Schools who have shared language, tools and assessment frameworks vertically are only able to do this because the buy-in is shared. While the student perspective is important in refining the HOW its success is directly tied to how broadly and urgently your WHY is FELT. People will move mountains for you if they FEEL the same way you do. Build your “call to arms” pitch deck and pitch it! I wish these were all my ideas but I stand on the shoulders of giants –

    Right @gnichols ??

  2. Hey @lmustard! Wow – kudos to you for taking on this mammoth yet very crucial project. @ljensen and I have spoken at length about how important it is for our students to possess effective search skills given the volume of information available for them to mine. In terms of next steps, I agree with @jmedved that sharing your vision and your WHY with faculty in a large forum is a powerful way to update everyone on your project and to gauge interest. I can see if our librarians are interested in meeting/speaking with you about what this work looks like at our school. Personally, I am happy to speak to you about some insights I have gleaned about teaching and learning through inquiry based my work and writing in IB schools. Cya Friday!

  3. @lmustard,

    I think your HMW question is perhaps one of the most integral questions for 21st century secondary eduction. High schools in the near future will have to radically reimagine the role of librarians in the same ways that Universities have done over the past 15 years. You are a curator, a discerner, an organizer, a node, a recommender, a meta-analyst, the first-stop-shop for research. I envision a school in which the librarian is the mediator between teacher and student, helping to facilitate project management while the teacher dives into assessment.

    I don’t know if I have any advice to help you on this journey. It will be a long one. I would start with one faculty and get as many teachers on board as possible. Use the success of that initiative to leverage other faculties and put pressure on admin to change timetable and responsibilities accordingly.

    If nothing happens from it, you end up with the status quo, which is not ideal, but seems to function. If you succeed, think about the domino of benefits.

    Keep it up!

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