Thoughts on Instruction

With the end of my practicum coming to an end and teaching my last class I thought I would write down my thoughts about instruction. When I first sat down with the Assistant Director of ZSR Reference dept. we talked about me teaching a class or two. I was both interested and intimidated at the same time. All I could think about was I had decided to go to Grad school because I didn’t want to teach. You see back then I was convinced I didn’t have the patience to teach nor did I have the understanding needed. I wasn’t confident in my own skills.

What changed? I did basically I think in the last two years I’ve done some major growing up. While I still have some issues with tooting my on horn (but I’m getting better) I now know I’ve skills to share. As the semester continued I went along collecting information from the librarians about their jobs and journeys. But in the back of my mind I knew the time was coming when I would have to stand in front of a group of students not munch younger than me. In all honesty I think it was the support of my supervisor and the Instruction Librarian I co-taught with that helped so much. They were both critical in my preparation and they were very eager to share their thoughts with me.

Class One

My first class was on Zotero. I was nervous and using a new tool, Prezi. I started the class with an introduction then walked the class through download and install of Zotero in Firefox and the Word Plug in. With a few hiccups we moved on to me showing how to pull in material. I had a whole lesson worked out to show different materials, what to do when it didn’t automatically pull in the information and then making a citation and bibliography using Zotero in Word. Unfortunately I ran out of time. I didn’t take into account the speed and level students would catch on. For future reference I would cut down on the introduction and just jump into the download and install.

Class Two

My second class was another big one as I had to lead the class alone, as my co-teacher was away at ACRL. So I was extra nervous and again I was using a new tool. I was using power point with the clickers. Which involved learning a new program…TurningPoint. I joked with one of the other librarians that I wondered if the whole class would show up. Of course the whole class showed up and we went through Scholarly Journals fairly quickly. Most students know about journals, well they know they exist. They might not know how much the library pays for them or why they should use them but they know there’s something called Journals. What surprised me, although it shouldn’t have, was that no one had used the Journal Finder tool and I don’t think any of them had used a database really. So the tips I shared was to not start in Journal Finder as it would just make life harder. For future reference I would have had them do an activity to show that they understood. Since I knew we would be talking more about them the next class I let them go a bit early.

Class Three

Scholarly databases and citing journals. By this time I thought I had the hang of it. I was focused on timing and making sure I got the lesson across in whole. I think I made my co-teacher proud. This time I didn’t do a presentation I used the library webpage to give examples. By showing how to do searches using their topic search terms I think I engaged them better. I made sure to stop and ask for answers to questions and asked if I was loosing anyone. I should them general and subject specific databases and had the general citation format written on the white board. For an activity I asked them all to find a relating article and pull it into Zotero for the next class. It was interesting to see those who used the databases I talked about and then to see them use the boolean searching and truncation tips I shared. None of them knew about these two things before hand. I felt proud of myself.

Class Four

The last class was a major challenge. But by this time I was more comfortable talking about sources, the weakness and strengths of sources. So I told them about a million times websites as sources was a tricky thing to master. Citing them would be even harder. I made a point to look at what others were saying about the subject, ZSR has a page about website sources and links to two other college’s thoughts. This helped a lot on pulling my own thoughts together. For the class I again relied on actual examples…but I felt it wasn’t as interactive as I might have wanted. For future reference I want to come up with better ways to communicate something that I’m not as skilled in.

My Overall Experience

I think between shadowing and actually teaching my experience has grown 100%. I’m more comfortable in front of the class than I thought I would be. And I enjoy it immensely, which is a great surprise to me. There’s a lot of things I still need to learn about, like timing, engaging the students, and communicating a tricky subject matter.

I would love to hear about other people thoughts on Bibliographic Instruction. How did you feel the first time you taught a class? Any tips you would like to share?

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Prezi

Logo of Prezi.com

Image via Wikipedia

Another fun open source software* to share: Prezi.

Before I start I have to say it’s almost impossible to figure out what exactly Prezi are. Which I think for any new application if the website doesn’t tell me what it is then I’m less likely to spend more time on the site to figure it out myself. From first looks at the site I gather it’s a way to do presentations online. But that doesn’t really tell me anything, at first I thought it was just another way to make¬†power-points, but it’s not. So I gave up and went to Wikipedia. Turns out:

“Prezi is a web-based presentation application and storytelling tool that uses a single canvas instead of traditional slides.” Wikipedia

I was intrigued so I actually went back on the site and looked at some of it’s promotional videos that were uploaded using YouTube. I also looked at some of the published prezis and I think it’s a great tool. I also think it’s going to take some time to learn. It can be argued easier to learn than Powerpoint because the animation and features that make an effective power-point is already built into the presentation tools. It’s like an animated Photoshop page.

A down side would be that you start with a completely empty canvas and that can get the better of you. I can make an a great informative Powerpoint in about half an hour if I have all the information ready to go. However I don’t really see that happening with this tool as I would have to spend more time planning the overall presentation before I even started. One of the features is creating a path in which your presentation follows. Same way when you plan the which slide goes before which.

I know why they don’t really explain what Prezi is because it’s hard to explain. In truth you need to check it out for yourself. Prezi.com

*Correction: Prezi is not technically a open source software they are a freemium (free+premium) web application. I’m sorry for any confusion I might have caused.