Sneak Peek: Elementary Makerspaces with Marge Cox

 

This month at School Library Connection, we’re exploring the culture of making—looking at how innovative practitioners use school library makerspaces not only to meet STEM learning goals, but also goals for ELA, Social Studies, and other curriculum areas.

In this sneak peek from her eight-part workshop on creating great makerspaces for the elementary grades, 2016 AASL School Library Program of the Year winner Marge Cox shares a few simple ideas for makerspace activities for math and social studies. Subscribers can access the entire workshop here, where you’ll find more great ideas for makerspace activities across the curriculum as well as helpful tips for assessment, marketing, and finding funding.

 

 

 

coxMarge Cox is the library media specialist at Collier County Schools in Naples, Florida. Her efforts were recently recognized when her school won the 2016 AASL National School Library Program of the Year Award. She is also the co-author of The Library Media Specialist in the Writing Process.

Authentic Learning with a Simulated Campaign

olson-teaserLooking for ways to get students interested in how the political process works? In “A Campaign Simulation for Authentic Learning” David Olson describes a popular collaboration that helps his AP U.S. Government students practice what they’ve learned by working together on simulated U.S. Senate campaigns.

Subscribers to SLC can read more articles with great ideas like this by visiting School Library Connection.

The school library is, at its best, an incubator of democratic values and a haven for inquiry.  At James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where I teach social studies, our students utilize library resources, with the support of school librarians, in nearly all courses. Starting as first semester freshmen, our students approach the issues of immigration and migration by exploring their own families’ journeys. Through modeling, think-alouds, and mini-lessons from the librarians, students use Ancestry.com (purchased by our library) to find primary resources relating to their families, learn proper citation and database search techniques, and connect their personal stories to broader themes using the ABC-CLIO American History database and a curated collection of print materials. Eleventh grade students use Biography in Context and Gale Virtual Reference Library to create fictional universities centered on the social and political protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. My upper-level students visit the library several times during the course of the semester to conduct research from books and databases, play iCivics games, explore webquests, and collaborate in small groups. All of these lessons are planned and instructed in collaboration with the school librarian.

A few years ago, when my department began offering AP U.S. Government and Politics, I was faced with a conundrum. In a second semester AP course in a state where school doesn’t end until June, what do I do with the last three weeks of class? I found my answer with my school librarian, Robin Amado, who helped me craft a campaign simulation using library resources. In each class, my students divided into campaign teams to run for a U.S. Senate seat. Campaigns featured a candidate, campaign manager, website team, advertising team, social media team, and policy wonks (specialists in policy details). The project allows students to simulate the election process and put into practice everything they’ve learned about the political world. Continue reading “Authentic Learning with a Simulated Campaign”

Are Your Seniors Ready for College, Career, and Civic Life?

The Presidential Citizens Medal
The Presidential Citizens Medal

School Library Connection’s own Paige Jaeger reminds us that in this political season of change, pontificating, bloviating, orating, and more…the truth gets buried deeper than normal.

Now more than ever we need to teach our students to make informed decisions— based upon evidence—and ensure that they see the link between history and real life.  Now may be the best time to ensure we understand the new College, Career, and Civic (C3) readiness.

new-picture-2Swept up in the tsunami of educational standards reform, the National Council for Social Studies completely overhauled their teaching framework so that social studies content is aligned with the Common Core (CCSS) reforms. Even if your state has not adopted the Common Core, it’s likely that they have been influenced by it. State education departments use the national standards to inform changes at the state level and it often takes a few years for the aftershocks to be felt by the students. Be ye hereby warned: The changes are massive.

It’s likely that your state will be, is currently, or has reviewed their state Social Studies Standards for alignment. Here are a few thoughts to ponder as you start the school year and begin to review possible social studies (SS) projects for alignment with new national standards.

The Arc of Inquiry

Storytelling may still be alive, but lecture is dead. There is no doubt about it—new standards want students to manipulate content, get down and dirty with the past, draw informed conclusions, and deeply uncover, discover, and understand the why behind our (hi)story.  In fact, the crafters of the C3 put it up front and center in the change.  If you are not familiar with inquiry-based learning, now is the time to embrace this learning model that fits the learning styles of the NextGen students who want to be in control. The inquiry model is defined in  “dimensions,” where students are asking questions, researching, deliberating, and making claims, all wrapped up in a knowledge product, thus making them more capable of taking informed action. Continue reading “Are Your Seniors Ready for College, Career, and Civic Life?”

Using Images as Scaffolds for Reading Complex Text

Nov_coverApril at School Library Connection has been all about inquiry—but we’ve got inquiry on the brain all year long! In case you missed it, check out this great article from our November 2015 issue by Nicole Waskie-Laura and Susan LeBlanc on using images to scaffold learning as we move students toward the goal of reading complex texts.

Picture this: a class of students with a wide range of reading levels and abilities engaging deeply with the same introductory text. The topic and text are unfamiliar, yet the students that typically struggle to read are leading the text-based conversations. As the lesson progresses, the room buzzes with conversation as students grapple with the information in the text, ask inquisitive questions of their peers, and provide evidence-based answers.

How is it possible that all students across reading levels are independently accessing the same text? Because the introductory text is an image, allowing for the engagement of all learners. Visual texts sustain interest and help build understanding, scaffolding the reading of complex, printed text. Continue reading “Using Images as Scaffolds for Reading Complex Text”