Monday, April 8, 2013

IPAL Preconference Instruction Ideas Recap

Here are some of the ideas discussed during the lightning round. Thanks to all who attended, and don't forget to submit your evaluation (check your email, or the post just below this one)!

Lightning Round Instruction Ideas

(I’ll do my best to give credit to those who shared their ideas, but if I missed something or get something wrong, please mention it in the comments & I’ll go back and edit the post)

White Board Name Tags
Using small whiteboards (they’re 2-sided and can be found in the Target One-Spot) with magnet clips (or large binder clips) as stands are a great way to learn student names and help you keep track of research topics. You can also have students write something about themselves on the boards as part of an ice breaker for the class. (Becky Canovan)

Telephone Pictionary
Start the students with this set of instructions (or something similar):
Pictaphone (Telephone Pictionary)
This activity is good for reinforcing primary source importance or good for reinforcing why it's important to track back sources, know authorship, how stories change over time.
  • You can't use phrases, words, or letters in your drawings
  • No talking
  • Pass when I say pass
  • Work quickly (because you don't have much time)
  • You will start with a prompt (BOX 1). Read that prompt and then draw (to your best ability) a picture that demonstrates or represents the prompt (BOX 2). 
  • After 1.5 minutes, scoot the box up in the viewer so that only your drawing and the next blank box is ready to go (BOX 3); then pass it LEFT.
  • In box 3, write a caption/description of what is happening in BOX 2.
  • After 1 minute, scoot the box up in the viewer so that only your caption and the next blank box are ready for the next person.  Pass it to the LEFT
  • Continue this way until all boxes are filled or until I say stop. 
Jenny Parker remembered a version of this called Telestrations and the version I learned from (but it took me 3 years to remember what it was called) was Scribblish. (Cara Stone)

Keyword Categories Activity
This activity was for an upper level science course, Environmental Toxicology. Anne Marie knew the topics ahead of time, and knew there would be many keyword challenges (they were to evaluate a specific organism and the influence of a toxin on that organism). As an avenue for brainstorming, she took cardstock and generated a series of keywords for four different categories (one category for each wall).  They were categories not specific to the discipline, so one was the “rear end” category (butt, buttox, badonkadonk, rear end, hiney, etc.) , another was “restroom” words (restroom, bathroom, loo, potty, etc.), another was for “carbonated beverages” (carbonated beverages, pop, soda, coke, etc.), and the last category was nicknames for her daughter (which included “fluffy butt” which was interesting for the students working to sort the “rear end” category). The cards were mixed together and then presented to the students. The students had to organize the terms into categories, rank them from broad to narrow, and then define the category using the broadest terminology.  They would then brainstorm ideas/terms for their own topics and then the librarian did a short demonstration of the database, applying the keyword ideas. (Anne Marie Gruber)

Keyword Haikus
Jennifer has her students write haikus about their research topics, which helps them think outside the box to generate additional key terms. (Jennifer Sterling)

Crowdsourcing Haikus
Becky precreated haikus, with some help from her friends, related to their class topics. Then the students had to identify what the topic was based on the clues found within the haiku.  Read more here: (Becky Canovan)

Visual Literacy and Keywords
Another Becky finds images that illustrate a topic, and then has students describe the picture. They then discuss the many words that help describe or represent the topic from the pictures, which helps students realize all of the keyword possibilities. (Becky Alford)

Brown Bag Categories
Anne Marie does something similar with groups of objects within a paper bag. You can either have students work to describe the items, or have them try to figure out what the common bond/category might be.  (Anne Marie Gruber)

Paper or Project Topic Press Conference
Julie has struggled with getting students to realize that the library instruction session they’re coming for isn’t the same one they came for last time. She uses ties as a prop to help set the scene for a class “press conference.”  In her public speaking session, she has one volunteer (who thinks they know their topic pretty well) come to the front of class and field questions from the "press" (the rest of the class).  This helps students realize what they do and don’t know about their topics, and what they need to further research. As they are fielding questions, Julie writes down keywords they might use to do additional research. As librarians, we know that asking questions is the best way to get to the heart of a topic or assignment, but students often haven’t learned that lesson yet. Once the class has seen this in action with one person, Julie has the students pair up and have one person asking questions and recording keywords while the other fields the questions.
Learn more here: (Julie Arensdorf)

MAD MEN Database Marketing
Julie also has a fun activity where she has the students pair up or get into small groups. Each group is assigned a database to work with, and it is their group’s job to sell the database to the class. What are some of the cool features? Why is this awesome? What kind of information is found within, and how could that be helpful? They also have to show at least one of the cool features that would wow their “clients” (their classmates).  (Julie Arensdorf)

Keyword Taboo
Becky uses the rules (and buzzer) from Taboo to help students generate keywords. Read more here:
Instead of using Poll Everywhere, Dan Chibnall tried Google Forms with the same activity and it worked like a charm! (Becky Canovan)

Web Evaluation with Google Forms
Students can share web selection and evaluation rationale with you through Google Form. Creating fields for their instructor’s name, course section, topic, URL, and a place where they can describe or explain why they chose their website.  This can all be done in class and you can follow it up with a discussion of a few selected submissions.  You can also follow up with the rest of the websites (by making comments in the Google spreadsheet) and share the types of resources students think are “high quality” with professors, who sometimes assume students already know how to select quality materials online. You can also link it in the class page for students to look over. You can make the student submissions anonymous by simply not having a field for them to enter their name or other identifying information.  (Anne Marie Gruber)

Julie Arensdorf also uses Google Docs for pre/post assessment. Students submit a website they think would be good, and then they discuss it as a group. In one class this nicely lent itself to a discussion of the anatomy of a URL, noting that just because there’s the word “Harvard” somewhere in the title or URL doesn’t necessarily mean that the website is something Harvard actually endorses or supports.

Boolean Operator Simon Says
With first semester freshmen, Beth likes to have the students play Boolean operator Simon Says (i.e. If you’re wearing Central gear stand up; if you’re wearing Central gear OR glasses stand up; if you’re wearing Central gear AND glasses stand up, If you’re wearing glasses but NOT wearing Central gear stand up, etc.). It gets students thinking about how they combine their keywords impacts their search results to narrow or expand their options.  (Beth McMahon)

Julie Arensdorf also uses something similar, but uses coffee as a...I don’t want to say temptation or bribe, so let’s just go with “motivating factor.” For some of the earlier classes she’ll say that she could really go for a cup of coffee, but she can’t buy coffee for everyone so she uses Boolean to help narrow down the number of students she’ll buy coffee for. (i.e. Those wearing Loras gear--that’s too many, those wearing Loras gear and glasses--still too many, etc.) And then she gets it so narrow that no students are standing & no one gets coffee.

Kid Lit Scenarios
In our literature for children class, we have a series of library info lit sessions; in one we discuss reluctant readers, read-alike options, book suggestions, hi-lo readers, and resources to help you find books to suggest. Then the students break into small groups and find recommendations for their "student." They are given a scenario and then share their responses on Blackboard. This way the whole class can start to think about options for their classroom library. (Cara Stone)

When IL Sessions Don’t Have an Attached Assignment
Sometimes classes or pre-school-year orientation programs have a required library day but don’t have an attached assignment.  Instead of keeping everything general, Becky and Anne Marie created a mock assignment that taught research skills in a college prep context. The assignment they created addressed the question “How do you approach a library assignment?” They created a worksheet (see below) with some basic questions and set the students loose in Credo. Then they brought the students’ focus back to the group to discuss some of the questions and research strategies.  (Becky Canovan and Anne Marie Gruber)
Getting Started - The Research Process - Gruber and Canovan - Dubuque by stonca01

Calvin Does Research
Another fun resource from Becky was the Calvin Does Research page. Check it out below! (Becky Canovan)
Calvin Does Research by stonca01

Check back on Thursday for a recap of the Ask the Masses discussion!


  1. This was a really great session. I will be borrowing a lot of ideas from everyone who shared! Another librarian mentioned an idea similar to the "Brown Bag Categories". In order to help students think about keywords you can hold a can of Coke up in front of the class (don't say Coke) and ask students to list as many descriptive keywords that they can think of. It sounds like they usually list: coke, pop, soda, but also get as nitty-gritty as the can properties for example aluminum. This seems like a nice and easy way to help students think about keywords. Thanks to everyone who shared ideas!

  2. That's right, Jenny! I had forgotten the Coke example! Thanks for catching it! :o)

  3. Thanks for putting this all together, Cara. Excellent work. See you Monday!