Have you visited the Northview’s or Southview’s media centers lately? If not, you should make an effort to get out there and see the redesigns. Last year, Southview’s center got more than a face lift. The space was redesigned to provide more space for student collaboration and work, including secluded spaces for tutoring. This summer, Northview followed suit with a remodeling that set tall tables near abundant natural light sources, computer stations at accessible heights, and smarter use of spaces-within-spaces for varied grouping. (Check out a panoramic here.) With the opening of the new center, media specialist Darla Omey put a spin on the traditional freshman orientation: a digitally-enhanced scavenger hunt.
Each year, new wildcats leave their English classroom to tour the media center under Darla’s guidance. In years past, that has meant packets of information and days of work. This year, Darla wanted to avoid the paper and reduce the time. She scheduled only two days in the media center, with follow-up visits planned throughout the year. As for the paper, Google Forms provided the solution.
Let’s visit the second of these two days. Students start in a computer lab across from the media center, where they complete a TRAILS assessment, which provides Darla with data on their information literacy skills. She uses this data to plan return visits and support English teachers. Once finished, students walk across the hall, grab Chromebooks, and continue their work in partnerships to complete the scavenger hunt orientation, begun yesterday.
The digital work starts in Darla’s media center Google Classroom (which is an exceptional collection of resources, by the way). There, students open a document that lists eleven questions for media center scavenging. Each question is a form link that directs students to a part of the media center to perform a task or gather information. Once finished and the form submitted, students move to the next question and the next form. The English teachers with whom Darla works receive access to the database of answers to use as class grades as they see fit. And, of course, they never worry about collection or organization. It’s all done for them.
As they move through the media center, students talk, laugh, type, and learn. Some place Chromebooks on laps to work; others find those comfortable high tables by the windows. They enter the stacks and pull books. They speak to library aides and adults. They log into checkout computers. All the work is directed by the information on their screen, information which will be easily accessible by Darla and others for instructional decisions without paper organization burdens.
As this activity develops, Darla is interested in exploring the possibility of QR codes for students to complete the activity on smartphones, creating more flexibility and mobility. And, of course, the more mobile and flexible the technology, the more it becomes an almost invisible tool used for the most important purpose: the beginning of a relationship with the Northview media center and the informational literacy skills it offers.