My strategy for this action research project has been to watch Margaret’s video and do the corresponding activities. After watching video #5, Plan for Action,” I was able to do a basic force field analysis, but I’m still unclear on how to frame my research using the logic model. Below are a list of the forces for and forces against change. I haven’t yet assigned them numerical values, but I believe the “forces for change” are greater than the “forces against change.”
Forces for Change:
-Administrative support from Principal and Asst. Superintendent
-Increased student engagement with use of makerspace materials
-Next Gen Science standards will require teachers to consider hands on materials like those in the makerspace
-New American Library Association Standards focus on inquiry and support makerspace environment in library
-Recent change in library schedule opens up library on Fridays from 12:30-3:15pm
Forces Against Change:
-Teachers have no time for “extra things”
-Teachers don’t have (aren’t making) time to teach science
-Lack of clerical support in library to maintain organization and supervision of materials
-Lack of time to catalog resources
-Lack of time to connect Next Gen Science standards to materials
-Not all district librarians support the idea of a library makerspace
In the meantime, our Assistant Superintendent asked us to prepare a wish list of materials for a makerspace in each of the seven libraries in our district, based on the assumption we would have the computer labs adjacent to the library for the materials to be stored and used. At our meeting to review the list, one of the librarians shared strong reservations for our role in managing and promoting a library makerspace. She felt strongly that it would take away from what she considers our primary goals of encouraging students to read and to help them develop information literacy and media literacy skills (which made me add the last item to the “forces against change” list.)
After viewing Margaret’s third video in her action research tutorial series, I am ready to provide a rich description of the setting for my action research.
My action research will take place in a K-6 school library in a Title 1 school located in a small city in upstate New York. I have been teaching therein the role of school librarian for over sixteen years. Over the past ten years, a paradigm shift has been taking place in school libraries around the country, shifting their focus from providing resources and supporting research projects to providing learning environments that support inquiry, exploration and creation.
There are seven libraries in my school district; five K-6 elementary, one 7-8 middle school and one 9-12 high school. Last summer, one of the elementary librarians and I decided to pursue a grant to purchase materials for a library makerspace, an area of the library where students can problem solve and create, using legos, circuit kits, robots, paper, markers, scissors, and craft materials.
Student engagement while using the makerspace materials is high, and I have offered teachers the option of sending their students at the end of the day to use the materials. In December, students used the makerspace to participate in the iEARN Global Holiday Card exchange. We received cards from Russia, Canada, Belarus, Taiwan and Ukraine. Displaying these by the makerspace was a good way to bring positive attention to the area.
My next step is a literature review, which I look forward to - reading about best practices and reflecting on and sharing what I learn!
To select my research question, I thought about positive change that I wanted to see happen in my library and in my school. One focus this year is on working with classroom teachers on global projects, with the eventual goal that they will see the value of incorporating them on their own.
Another focus is making my library become a place of creation, rather than just consumption. I received grant funds over the summer to purchase the items to create a maker space in the library. This includes low tech items (origami paper, dowels, legos, string, etc) as well as high tech (robots and circuit kits) materials. It is relatively easy to purchase the materials needed for a maker space, however, the effective use of the maker space program should be based on set goals, research, and data, as well as feedback from both teachers and students. Since, at this time, I am the only library with an established maker space, the school district has asked for my input on setting one up in each school. For my action research, I would like to investigate the following questions: How can I run my library maker space so that it is used effectively at all grade levels? How can I use my library maker space in conjunction with global collaborations?
When I first heard the term "Action Research," I had some confusion; to me it seemed that "action" and "research" were two terms that didn't go together - action meant doing and research meant reviewing literature. However, after talking with Margareet and viewing the first two videos, I had some "aha" moments where it started to make sense. In my instructional practice, I have always been interested in trying new things and feel I have developed a high level of "innovative expertise." However, there has always been the nagging thought in my head that I need to slow down and reflect more on my practice and understand why certain approaches are and are not effective. I like the term "adaptive expertise" where I have the opportunity to learn in and from my practice with an intentionality that has been lacking. With this blog post, I am excited to be taking the first step in this direction!