Saturday, October 4, 2014

Digital Research Kits - 21st Century Style

After spending 15 years in a research driven high school library program, I knew the importance of the research process.  In many situations it appeared that something was lacking either on the part of the assignment, the teacher’s knowledge, or the student’s approach (many times included bad research habits). That is where I eagerly took on the role as a high school librarian in a collaborative effort to provide our students with the best possible college ready experiences.  So fast-forward my life to relocating 1,000 miles, facilitating a middle school library program, and sharing my research based experience with an entirely new school. 

My ah-ha moment occurred during a LIB-SIG TCEA presentation by my good friend Nancy Jo Lambert.  She was presenting her amazing school library website when she came upon her Digital Research Kits (DRK).  The words rang in my head since this was completely new terminology to me and the ideas began spinning.  We all talk about taking real practices and ideas back to your campuses after conferences and conventions, well I was ready to start even before we set off on the icy roads back north to Fort Worth. 

I quickly realized it was and old idea (path finders) that I had been marketing for years during the research process with a new twist.  Yes, I was going to embed these kits into our “Virtual Library” and present this with our next research project.  The question of platform came to my mind but I quickly answered my own question with the concept of smashing as many tools as possible.  Smash and model soon became my calling card in all facets of the library program. 

So, here’s where I began and my rational.

I started with 6th grade Social Studies and produced a DRK in Google presentations because we wanted to introduce our students to their new Google accounts.  We also wanted them to use the collaboration option and work in groups thus here is our first kit.

Another DRK was designed with the end product in mind.  This 7th grade kit embedded a smore into the kit modeling the preferred tool for assignment choice. The kits became collaboration between the teacher(s) and myself. 

One of my favorite DRK was our 8th grade ELA kit in Google sites that was directly related to model the set-up of our student ePortfolios.  The best comment came from a student during the presentation of the kit.  “This is cool.  You can use this same kit next year.”  Yes, I used the terms kits, virtual library, and more during the process.

My latest and favorite kit so far was introduced this week.  I chose a ThingLink since the students are required to produce a multimedia project.  It was amazing to watch the student engagement during the demonstration.  This kit had over 2,200 hovers in just one day per the report from ThingLink. 

More kits may be found at this link.

What do I take back from tweaking an older concept and giving it new terminology and a 21st Century appearance?  It not only refreshes me with excitement and passion with smashing and presenting new tools, but it allows our library program to go beyond the school day and the school walls.  I easily add these kits to our school website, our social media accounts, and our teachers add them to their netSchool page.  Sometimes it’s one simple idea from another awesome friend that can motivate us into changing the process in our library program.  Here’s to more ideas in the future.

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