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Redesigning the Nature of Life Handout


The summer before College of Biological Science students start their freshmen year, they do a 1 week intensive retreat at the Itasca research center. A few years ago we were able to get a handout in the resources section of their 3-ring binder. However, over the years, it became out-of-date, and it was a time for a quick refresh, as we only had two days to work on it.

In reviewing past examples, I came up with some things to keep in mind during the redesign. Here are the elements of a good handout, in my opinion:

  • They are not a copy of the slides, rather they supplement the session

  • The handout uses a clear and easily readable type

  • The information naturally flows from one point to another

  • There should be a balance of white space to give the eyes a rest; this also can serve as a note-taking spot

  • Use images

  • Include your contact information

  • Have clear sections or headings, so attendees can follow along with the presentation

  • Where can they go for additional information? Include references, websites, etc.

  • Make the handout part of an activity, if possible. Engage the audience at different points with the handout.

  • Include the date created and contact, for easy updating later

  • Keep it to one page

Here are some of the previous handouts and comments on their design.

NOL1.jpg Design 1. It includes our branding, but was text heavy.

NOL2.jpg Design 2. This is a faculty handout. (I couldn't find the student one quickly, but the same design.) It uses a lot of color and images, and might be a bit too busy. We also found that the folks putting together the packets just photocopy, rather than print from the original file, and used black & white. This quickly degraded the quality of the images and made the contact information hard to read.

Design 3. This is a draft of the content we wanted to include, switching to mostly black and white. Still too text heavy, boring layout and too much white space.

Design 4. This was our final version for this year. The front page has the important information, our contact info and the liaisons the students will mostly be working with while at UMN. Before we have the middle empty, and that was too empty, so we made a word cloud based off of the text on the back and previous handouts. The back is a newspaper advertising-like layout. It has sound bite bits of information, and a few icons to break up the text. We also added a few grey blocks to break up the text as well.

Now on to redesigning for next year, as I will have a year to work on it, rather than dashing something off at the last minute. Also, I would like to work with the library staff at Itasca, to see how they might use the handout as an activity and build around that.

Active Learning Techniques for Librarians


Recently, I have been disappointed by instruction books that are a collection of techniques, but when you boil them down, really it is only a couple of strategies that are just reworded and reworked. That is until today, when I read Active Learning Techniques for Librarians by Andrew Walsh and Padma Inala. This book had an excellent introduction of active learning, and over 50 separate examples that you could implement in the classroom tomorrow. Here are a few of my favorites that I will try this fall:

  • I will do it: ask students to write down 3 things they learned, how they plan to apply the knowledge and a date, and how you will continue learning. Then mail or e-mail the sheets back to the student at an agreed upon time.

  • Lightening the learning climate: Have students 'make fun of' a topic you will cover in class, or the opposite, such as the worst way to find resources for my paper.

  • Poster tours: For group assignments have students create a poster wit htheir thoughts/findings. Then students circulate and write questions on their peers' posters.

  • Start,Stop, Continue: A great way to get feedback midstream, as students to write on post-its what they think you should stop doing, start doing and continue doing.

  • Show Me, tell me: This capitalizes on childhood memories of playdough, and being creative. Have students mold or draw their current stage of the research process/ model/ how they feel about the lit review.

  • Spot the mistake: Have students take notes when you make mistakes (on purpose and not) and then compare with a partner and discuss how they would approach such a mistake.

What I especially appreciated about each learning activity is the author's list common pitfalls, so you can plan for them and not be caught off guard.

Outreach to ESL Students


Every time I teach an ESL instruction session I learn something new about myself and the students. I truly appreciate teaching this group of students as they are so inquisitive, invested, and appreciative of any assistance. Yesterday I noticed that many students were silently repeating my directions afterwards. They were working on their pronunciation of library and research terms. The library comparison handout I created based off of John Hickok's from "Knowing Their Background First" in International Student and Academic Libraries: Initiatives for Success. This provided an excellent jumping off point for discussion, including different types of reference tools, such as encyclopedias, handbooks, etc. as a place to gather background information and formulate research topics. Many student were surprised to find that they can chat with a librarian 24/7.

eslhandout.pngThroughout the tour we chatted about the differences between their home libraries and the UMN. Many from China and Korea were disappointed that textbooks are not provided in the Libraries. At many of their home institutions textbooks were provided by the library for the term. The hardest part of the class always comes down to doing a search in the library catalog or a database. Students often have a hard time grasping that you need to distill their ideas down to concepts and type in the concepts not complete sentences with fillers. Multiple examples and working one-on-one with students seems to help, along with a revised handout that is more direct.

International Students and Academic Libraries outlines many things that we current do:

  • International Education Week displays and events: We have an open house and frequent displays around the Libraries

  • Orientation: We offer orientation sessions for international students, along with in-depth classes for graduate students the week before semester starts

  • One author had interns work on a leisure reading collection in Chinese. I could see this expanded to Chinese and Korean here at the U, if funding was provided

  • The topic discussion and evaluation by Amy Hofer and Margot Hason Golden Gate University was interesting: moving from a librarian to a peer critique using too broad, too narrow or just right (after a discussion of Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

  • Many authors talked about outreach to specific student groups; this is an area we can grow in at UMN.

  • Another author created case studies around academic integrity, such as: Is it okay to include sources you didn't actually use in your paper? Are hiding books in the library for your use only, okay?

  • Other areas that we could inprove in are: online guides for international students, popular materials in their native language,

I have a lot to learn about working with ESL students, and as I discover new sources and approaches I will share them here.

AASL Conference


I received an exhibitors pass through Metronet to attend AASL. Overall, similar to what I remember of PLA, and smaller than ALA. It was inspiring to chat with media specialists while waiting in line for an author's book, which I often donated to my local K12 school libraryl; hearing about all the job cuts and struggles with testing was disheartening, however the wonderful creative instruction they do is inspiring. I volunteered to be a room monitor, so I was able to attend a few sessions as well:

Divergence Convergence: Learning in a transmedia, cross-genre, multimedia world
Thinking, teaching, technology
Aasl standard lessons
Create lists of resources before approaching teacher, videos, photographs, wiki, etc. Not the specific tech but the genre (not flickr but photos)
Voice thread -
Book convergence culture- media convergence, participatory culture, collective intelligence
Encyclopedia of life
Google earth collaborative
The 39 Clues books, cards, website, social network... Can you have students create cards or game for another series
Instead of book review, short one and annotated list of good websites to go with it, info on characters, time period, setting, etc.
Skeleton Creek good example of transmedia storytelling, go back and forth between book and video, like Easter eggs and DVDs, click all over and explore
Dark Eden is another example
Fahrenheit 451 graphic novel
Anne frank house graphic novel
1776 illustrated version, with documents, maps, etc.
Cathy's key has packets, phone numbers to call, cards, etc. work with objects,
The amanda project
Dark effects has an evidence packets, be a patient in the medical facility
Bran Hambric(?) music for each chapter
voki create avatar, record voice, type paragraph and will read it, and can embed
Oral history projects with a twist: Clara kitchen recipes from depression era,
Greatest engineering achievements of the 20 century website
The house of power, lost audio
maximum ride website
Read write think - profile creator to think about public- private info
CBC digital archives
Frontline series
Inanimate Alice- interactive story
Copper, web comics
Story bird, create own comics
High impact world without oil- game
Sarah's key - two stories intertwined ww2
Hennietta lax - cancer nonfiction
Alice (Alice Roosevelt)' mrs. Tom thumb, lady in a blue dress all historical fiction

Empowering students through self-assessment
Move role from teacher to student
Clear learning objective and students should know them
Don't have to rewrite curriculum, look at activities, change student log, to graded log?
Keep it simple and small: start with a class, and be strategic, not the hundreds of lessons in a school every year
Student view and teacher view
Glogster digital poster
Given at the beginning, so students can continually assess their learning though out the lesson/project
Ratings log graphic organizer
Assessment = assistment is what the student heard, assist me is what self assessment is about
When you do peer critiquing you get better at evaluating yourself
New York is developing a common core crosswalk with formative assessments

Char Booth Presentation


These are a few notes from the Char Booth workshop at Macalester earlier this year.

Library as indicator species, evolution or extinction? #clicreflect
1930's library posters digitized them in flickr - LOVE THEM, great inforgraphics

how are libraries like card catalog? How evolving? Time of crisis and transition?
Library definition is rooted in place, content, container, not people, services, misses library as concept, why libaries exist?

Experience of website, building etc. For intentional, knowledge leads to culture of library, accumulates memory (library tradition) (i.e. Our magrath giving away plants tradition)

Blue island public library, Illinois sf theater

Our own collective librarian identity? Probably some positive ones, since in the profession. What is our library memory?

3 paradigm shifts: reader centered, collection centered 60's libraries concrete blocks, digital has transitioned collection to learner, its about facilitating the process of learning, not comfy chairs

Working within communities of practice- knowing about characteristics of departments and their library memory, defraction

Catalog cards as scratch paper, some of our most valued users this is a very sad trend, nostalgia and complete unawareness

3 library: destruction (crusaders, Iraq), decline (now, decreased funding) displacement now (internet)
Library closure on google timeline, upward trend of reporting in media and happening,

What do all these formats represent? Curatorship, knowledge, convince, if we define ourself as the content created, uh oh go away with card catalog, remember the value of yourself,

library bill of rights: we want things to be free and open, our concept

Outreach ideas
hotdog cart mobile library
Diy marketing, buttons
Maker- breaks with old materials
Library bootcamp
A cycle of revolving research, uc irvine tutorial
Skill shares- faculty outreach, what works and doesn't
Professional development collection
Curriculum mapping, rubrics for faculty, implementation plan
Lib guides, talking about open access, what access when leave, how learn in your field in professions?
Muddbrary- organic gardening, teaching moment

Information awareness + disciplinary engagement + scholarly conversation
Research literacy, you know it's successful if provided research therapy, neutral support, aren't grading,

threshold concepts

Ask a librarian radical reference info

Libraries are indicative of values, and struggling to protect, need to adapt, evolve,

How to Break past container assumption that everything on google? what does it mean, who wrote it? What mean for social justice? Work in advocacy
Critical library instruction, book

There should be something in the library to offend everyone

Bethels gate count as much as dining services

Earth day setup box statue how much printing cost, etc.

Technology Toolkit

Concept mapping- collaboration, assessment, productivity
Poll everywhere- assessment, collaboration, visualization
Smart sync - assessment, communication, productivity,
Prezi - students loved it, play
Google docs - pre assessment, collaboration, play, - no login for a mindmap
Slide, look at other books on subject
Qr codes
Handouts- more space as a worksheet, documentation, collaboration,
Lib guides-
Wiki- collaboration,
twitter- post topics , respond back,
Dropbox - file sharing,
Jing- screen capture
Join me- screensharing
Popplet - visualize
Mail chimp- electronic newsletters
Libx- browser extension

Introduction, why I'm here, why you are here, pageant video
Should out what you are an expert in? Group together, group subjects, organize items
Keyword musical chairs- trade papers or mind maps,
Interview neighbor about topic, tell 1 thing about neighbors topic
Citations by jeopardy
Personal whiteboards
Pod groupings , 2 people per table

Love give people choices, judgement calls

Gamestorming and Brainstorming: Collaborative Ideas


Want to get a group to generate ideas quickly and improve collaboration? Gamestorming might be right for you! I attended the gamestorming presentation by Jeff Stafford at the Quality Fair at UMN.

  • Groundrules might be good place to start:judge later, avoid discussion, capture ideas, be specific, build, participate, set time limit and number your ideas.

  • We played with Red and Green card a fun way for assessment of a large group whether it is a yes/no question or ready to move on, etc.

  • Have you ever made it out of Target without spending $100? Rarely. Well, here we had to prioritize a list of items and collective only had $100 to spend.
  • As the Libraries and units create a vision for the future during budget cuts I think these three questions were key:

    1. What are things we need to START doing?
    2. What are things we currently doing that we can or should STOP?
    3. What are we doing now that works and we should CONTINUE doing?

Another great resources besides the book Gamestorming (I just ordered the Libraries a copy) is

This ties into the book I just skimmed, Ideaship: How to get ideas flowing in your workplace. Two parts that I agreed with in the book are:

1. Get rid of the word "i": I is very divisive and does not build a collaborative environment.
2. Ask for many solutions/ don't reject ideas/ask for more ideas: often there is no one right answer, and if we stop at the first suggestion we might miss another opportunity.

"Good ideas are common - what's uncommon are people who'll work hard enough to bring them about" - Ashleigh Brilliant

Why Do Students Procrastinate?


The new short video is produced by Project Information Literacy (PIL) provides a glimpse into why students procrastinate:

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