PSLA 2013 Takeaway: Flipped Libraries

flip flopsI’m not totally sold on flipping classrooms/schools/libraries, mainly because I think moving too quickly towards flipping can make the existing digital divide even more formidable.  I’m a staunch believer in equal access, and relying on students and parents to find Internet access on a regular basis seems unrealistic.

Still, I was intrigued by Judi Moreillon’s idea of flipping a library in a completely different and more practical way than most of the current “models” of a flipped library suggest.  She simply stated that lessons on how to use library resources can be made on a video and disseminated to students much more efficiently than by doing a 40-minute watch-me-demo-then-independent-practice lesson within the confines of the library.

It’s truly a wonderful and do-able idea, even for elementary school librarians on a fixed schedule.  By freeing up your explanation time and teaching students to find the how-to videos *precisely when they are needed*, teacher-librarians can better focus their instruction time (fixed or flexible) on content, instead of the tool.  I can focus on guiding students to more appropriate resources instead of teaching the ins-and-outs of how to

This all came together for me as I’ve been considering trying school library “centers” for at least some of my instruction time (thank you, Cari Young on TpT).  When I am teaching to “cover” a teacher’s contracted planning period (read: no true collaboration possible), I am struggling to come up with ideas that are both student-centered and promote the deep thinking that Common Core demands.

So what I’m starting to think of is to have learning centers that relate to themed curriculum areas.  For instance, at least half of the school wants to do plants as the weather warms up, so I could set up a listening center of gardening audiobooks and related books on display.  That would be one of the choices for students’ “center time,” among others.  I’ve got ideas for a LEGO building station inspired by a theme or book series (also with a book display nearby), and seasonal science centers with a Venus fly trap plant or some other cool, non-crawling living thing.

The part I’m stuck on is assessment.  If the centers are based on student choice, how do I assess that students are actually learning research and information literacy skills?  And how can I do it seamlessly and preferably with self- or auto-correction?  I’d love to know what other folks do, and how they manage assessments on a fixed or mostly-fixed schedule.  Any thoughts or ideas are more than welcome in the comments!

P.S. – The image of flip flops is mine, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License.  Feel free to use it and/or link to it if you like.

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Mrs. J in the Library

Collette J., or Mrs. J in the Library, is a full-time elementary teacher-librarian, blogger, and mama from Pennsylvania. She loves technology, books in any format, makerspaces, and all things Harry Potter. The information and opinions represented here are her own and are not the views and opinions of any business or organization.

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