Friday, October 12, 2007

Lesson Study in Libraries

Did I post about Lesson Study yet? Even if I did, I have to post about it again, because it's *freakin awesome*. Marija Freeland, the Education librarian here at UM, brought it up at a meeting about a year ago, and since then, we've used Lesson Study to write, revise, and perfect a couple of modules teaching librarians can use when they go out to do library instruction (or b.i., or whatever).

Here's how it works:
  • We form a group of people (any title, any affiliation) with an interest in instruction in libraries.
  • We pick a topic (so far at UM, we've done "Incorporating RefWorks instruction into typical library instruction", "Making sense of Search Tools, a 30-minute module", and this semester we're doing "Critical evaluation of sources.")
  • We meet once to brainstorm ideas about the topic... How long it should be, what knowledge/skills we want students to walk away with, and a very, very rough outline for the lesson plan.
  • One person volunteers to write up the first lesson plan using the discussion at the lesson study meeting as a guideline. The same person then teaches the lesson to a class of students.
    • The class is told that the lesson is still being worked on, and after the session, they're asked to provide feedback: what worked, what didn't?
    • The other members of the Lesson Study group observe the class and the students. Their goal is not to critique the instructor, but the structure of the lesson plan.
  • The group meets again, reviews student feedback and observations, and work together to revise and improve the lesson plan.
  • Someone NEW teaches the lesson the next time to another group of students while other members observe and students provide feedback.
  • Repeat until satisfied with the lesson plan.
  • An AWESOME lesson plan that's been tried and tested and worked on by many minds with many perspectives.
  • Creating the lesson plan is a shared responsibility - when you volunteer to write and teach a version of the plan, you're not under the microscope: the lesson plan we all create together is. This takes the pressure of doing all the work yourself and being judged away.
  • We get to share perspectives and experiences - since we all come from different backgrounds, we may have a different view of the topics we're trying to teach... The strength in the diversity of our own group is that we'll create a lesson plan that addresses a wide array of experiences and backgrounds. This, in the end, benefits our diverse student population.
Marija, Shevon Desai, and I wrote a piece for C&RL News last May about it. We've also developed a website to post our results.

Upcoming is a Lesson Study on the critical evaluation of sources. I'm excited about this one - we're not teaching any specific tool like we have in the past; instead, we're teaching an idea. Should make for an interesting lesson plan.

Oh, and FYI, I'm leaving UM in December. Stacey, my spouse, is graduating from the School of Social Work here, and two days later, we're in a Penske truck heading back to Texas. I'll be the new Education & Political Science librarian at the University of Texas Arlington library.

(p.s. i didn't want to start off this post with 'sorry i haven't written in a while', but sorry i haven't written in a while. you know how septembers go.)


rich said...

cool. i think i'll bring this up as something my library can try for our tech classes. and congrats on the new job. i'm sure UM is bummed about losing you.

Shib said...

That is an incredible idea, sounds so simple yet I ahven't seen it being used anywhere.

Also, woohoo back to TX so when I am there, I can stay with you guys. Right? Uh, hello?

CogSci Librarian said...

great idea. I'm going to pass it on to the RefWorks implementation folks at my "shop" -- maybe we'll try it too.

Anonymous said...