Friday, October 10, 2014

Library Relay Races

The 2014-15 school year has started, and we've been busy!  We've even already started our now-annual field trips to the downtown central Hennepin County Library, and this year, to prep for these field trips, we did a "library relay race" activity with the ninth grade World Cultures/World Literature classes.  The goal was to have a practice session in a library before the field trip and its accompanying assignment, and to assess our ninth graders' library and research skills.

Lizz devised a series of activities for each group of students (four students per group) to perform.  Once a student completed their given activity, they would come to me, Lizz, or their teacher for judging.  If the activity had been successfully completed, the group would get a new task, and so on until the first group won and received an thrilling prize of candy.   

Activities included coming up with successful search terms for both a Google search and a library catalog search, finding books by call number and by subject, finding specific information in a book using the table of contents and the index, and finding and evaluating a database article.  For each activity, they had to relate the book or article to what they've been learning in class so far this year.  A few of the activities led to specific books that we wanted students to explore; this made it easy for us judges to know if the students had successfully followed directions--although we did have a lot of re-shelving to do between each set of relay races so the next groups could find the right books again!
Some activities required students to work together in teams and groups to come up with the best answers.

Some activities required students to find resources on their own, without help from peers or teachers.

World Cultures teacher Ms. Calderone judges a student's book selection.

We conducted these library relay races for every block of 9th grade World Cultures/ World History classes, all in one day.  It was very busy, a little hectic at times, but we got a very good sense of the areas in which students need to gain more skills.  And since the kids got to compete with each other for the glory of the win and a few pieces of candy, they deemed the activity "fun."  A few kids even thanked us, which is always a win. 

A ninth grade groups together works at the library catalog station.

Two groups of students--one looking for books in the stacks, the other
brainstorming search terms--race for the ultimate library relay prize. 

The teachers also agreed that the activities were helpful to both see where the students were at when it came to using library resources for research, and ensured that the students wouldn't be too lost and would have some context for the public library field trips.  All in all, a useful and entertaining addition to our library-classroom collaboration.

Ms. Youmans and a student, winning.

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