Author Archives: Dani Brecher Cook

On Google Glass and Empathic Teaching

Recently, my library embarked on a Google Glass adventure. There’s so much to say about Glass and its implications, but for this particular post, I’m going to focus on one particular use case.

It's me! Wearing Glass!

It’s me! Wearing Glass!

I’ve seen several blogs which suggest the same use case for Glass in the classroom: Have students wear Glass to record their experiences in class, on field trips, and throughout their day. The site I’ve linked to suggests that these videos could then be rewatched by students so that they can think critically about their experiences, analyzing why they make certain choices by revisiting those moments over and over. But what if a teacher asked a student to record their experience in class, and then the teacher viewed that student’s experience? Glass, I would argue, provides serious opportunities for empathic teaching.

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Infographic DIY

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at LibTech 2014, a truly excellent conference at Macalaster that I cannot recommend highly enough. Even a horrible cough couldn’t ruin this conference! Great sessions, nice people, pretty snow-covered campus, and the closing reception features all foods-on-a-stick and (root) beer: You should go next year. And, in the meantime, I highly recommend watching the keynotes by Mita Williams and Barbara Fister–relevant to librarians who work directly with tech, and not.

My session was “Infographic DIY: Online Tools for Teaching and Library Advocacy,” an interactive workshop that presented a brief intro to infographics, how we might use them in library contexts, and a whirlwind tour of six freemium, online infographic creators. You can walk through the session in the accompanying LibGuide, which also includes a handy comparison chart of the six online tools. My introductory slide deck is also there, and below.

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Dani @ LibTech

In just a few hours, I’ll be heading out to LibTech 2014 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I’ll be giving a presentation on infographics on Thursday afternoon, and I will post my materials here after. If you’ll be at LibTech too, I hope you will say “hi”!

Things I’m looking forward to at LibTech: Barbara Fister’s keynote, a root beer reception, and learning about all the cool technology projects that librarians across the country are working on!

 

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Of Databases and Deep Structure

It’s getting to be library instruction season, so this is probably something we’re all hearing right about now:

Sure, I’m interested in bringing my class to the library to work on their research paper. Maybe you can show them a couple of databases that might be related to their topics?

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that the answer should be:

Well, okay, it’s more complicated than that. Here’s why:

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Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher

On Learning Theories: What Are They Good For?

Hi, my name is Dani and I’m a cognitivist.

This is what a cognitivist looks like.

This is what a cognitivist looks like.

Allow me to explain.

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Communicating the Value of Information Literacy Recording

Missed our webinar yesterday? You can watch the recording here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shv8OfyVERQ

Thanks again to EasyBib‘s excellent professional development team, led by Emily Gover, who invited us for this webinar! You can also check out a list of links from us here of places online and in print to keep up with the latest education research developments.

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Filed under Education, Posts by Dani Brecher

Teaching Philosophies, Revisited

I never really understood teaching philosophies until today.

That’s not to say that I’d never written one before, because I’d written at least two. In my library school User Education class, we were all required to write one, for a grade. It was a page and a half, single-spaced. It’s not as terrible as I remember; it was actually first time I wrote down the “Librarian as Q” metaphor and focused on building relationships with students. A few things strike me now, as I read it: It’s really a statement about what I think librarianship is for, and not about teaching (in fact, it *might* work well as a reference philosophy); it’s very Dani-focused (there’s a passage about how authentically sharing my love for prime-time teen soap operas makes me a better or at least more relatable teacher, ugh); and it could probably win a game of library buzzword bingo.

Then, on the job market, I wrote other, marginally shorter and less Bond-filled philosophies, afraid that a search committee might not appreciate any modicum of personality (a mistake, I think now). These documents share that same focus on me—how the students will view me, what I am going to do in the classroom, etc. It’s certainly the product of  hours of navel-gazing introspection that applications engender (whether or not teaching philosophies should be required in higher ed is another question, and one worth examining).

This morning, at our teaching librarians’ retreat, my boss led us in an exercise where we had three minutes to write a teaching philosophy (check out her book for more awesome thoughts on this—you can read the teaching philosophy part in the online preview). My first thought was how am I supposed to write one of these massive documents in, literally, seconds?? But here’s what I came up with:

I want students in my classroom to examine their assumptions and think critically about information. I want my lessons to be meaningful and relevant to students’ lives. And I want to create an inclusive space where no one ever feels stupid.

So that’s about 95% shorter than any previous teaching philosophy I’d written, and I’d argue that it’s better for it. For one thing, it’s actionable: I can work to make these ideas a reality in my classroom and my lesson plans. It’s focused on student outcomes, not Dani outcomes. And it’s not bogged down in a bunch of crap. This is something I can and will actually use to guide my teaching practice.

If you haven’t written a teaching philosophy in a while, I’d invite you to try this exercise. Part of the change in my statement comes from an extra year of teaching experience and countless conversations with inspirational colleagues, but the form (short) and the purpose (personal, not to get a job or an A) also made a difference. If you’d like, post your results in the comments; I would love to learn from all you other teaching librarians and hear what you think is most important in your teaching.

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Why I Became a Librarian, Part II

Especially during the first semester of library school, the question of “Why do you want to become a librarian?” got tossed around all the time. We all came from different backgrounds, at different parts of our lives, but somehow we’d all ended up training to become some varietal of librarian. Librarianship is one of those special professions where people dream of becoming a librarian since they first stepped into their local public library, so that was a reason you heard a lot. Or people had some really smart things to say about the power of information and their passion for organizing it, so it was the logical next step for them to train as a librarian.

That’s not my story.

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Filed under Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher, The Library Game

On Taking Your Time

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working closely with some first-year students on their first college research paper. This week, they presented their research projects so far; it was really gratifying to see that every single one extensively used library resources in constructing their arguments.

While it’s still a few weeks away from the final research paper being done, it was interesting to notice, in general, the students who had fewer sources but had clearly spent more time with them had constructed much more nuanced arguments. I might have expected that more of a breadth of secondary sources would help in the creation of the argument, but, at least so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

So that got me to thinking about a recent article from Harvard Magazine, about the “power of patience” and how teachers (especially at the college level) can help students engage with deep structure and really seeing/reading something—a skill that is becoming a lost art.

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The Librarian as Cool Aunt

Is there an ideal instruction librarian? Some ur persona that will connect with students in a 50-minute session, convincing them of the value of information literacy and building the foundation of a relationship for later question-asking and consultations?

Yeah, for sure. And it’s this person:

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Filed under Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Dani Brecher