Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do you Google?

Another library story.

I subbed in a local intermediate school as a reading teacher. I've subbed for this school before and have felt great dismay at seeing the library so forgotten. Anyway...during the day I needed to go to a fourth grade classroom to assist a few students who struggle with reading and writing. The teacher announced that they needed to work on their research. They are studying life in colonial times. The class was divided into groups of 2-3 students where each group was assigned to research a topic such as farming, schools, village life, cooking, homes, etc. The portion of research that my three students were assigned was the subject of quilting. They fumbled around trying to locate books. Finally they asked their teacher and she couldn't find the books they needed. She told them to get the net-books out to use for research. So they got out two net-books, turned them on...and waited...........logged in..........waited.........and finally were ready to start. The first little girl went right to the Google homepage. I stopped her and said, "Wait a minute. Are there specific databases or websites that you are supposed to use?" (Databases are collections of resources to help people research topics.) She said, "No...we just go to Google." I stepped over to the teacher to ask her. She said, "No. They can just go to Google."
So what do you think a fourth grader puts into Google to begin her search? Why quilting of course! And what sort of information pops up? Everything!!! I tried to help by directing her to narrow her search by putting in quilting colonial times. At this time, who knows what popped up and we barely had time to look through it when the time for researching was over because the kids needed to get ready to go to a special.

So here's the thing that teachers don't realize. Librarians can help avoid all of this wasted time. Nothing was accomplished during the short 15-20 minutes that I was in the class. I'm wondering if the librarian even knows about this project. If I were the librarian at this school I would like to pull a bunch of books about life in colonial times to send down to the classroom on a cart for the students to use. I would also create path-finders to direct students to good and reliable websites to help students find information. That way we can avoid the long lists to quilting shops that have great supplies for quilters around the country. I would also look at the school's databases to see if there was any good sources there. I might even like to come to the classroom to show the students (and teachers) how to use the databases. I could even take it a step farther by helping to create a webquest for the class to use.

It was frustrating and yes...even painful to see this. I am just itching to become a school librarian and help with projects like this.


Martha said...

Blah. Nothing worse than wasted time.

I am attempting to prove I am not a robot... Here goes time #3...

Stacy said...

Way to go P. I'm glad for your suggestions myself. I'm still all about books for research for the kids' work. Can you offer ideas for how homeschoolers without (DAILY) access to a library can research books well from home? We use the owwl system but I always end up with three useless books for every great one I get.

Martha said...

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go."

— Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

Bethany said...

You will make a super librarian. :)

Priscilla said...

Stacy, I've done the same thing myself while creating a list of resources to use for a fictitious research project for a class I took. (yes...I had to imagine a project that fifth graders were working on. The one I created was for a project about Ancient Greece. I couldn't do a real project because it was a summer course) I needed to use the OWWL system because it was summer. Unfortunately, there is not always a good way to tell if a book is useful without handling it first. You may have to end up sending some back without using them in the long-run. I remember having to do that too. Having a school librarian is an advantage because the projects are often the same from year to year and the librarian can develop a good collection with the curriculum in mind.

Creating a pathfinder can be quite a time consuming task...but will save time in the long run. This is where a librarian takes time to search out good and reliable websites that are relevant to a topic of study. She/he will often post the links to the websites on the library homepage under specific project headings. That way, students access the pathfinder and go to the sites without fumbling around on poor and useless sites.

I wish I knew of a better answer. Sometimes there are book reviews on Amazon...but not always.