The Role of the Librarian in Facilitating Project Based Learning Experiences

Overview

As technology brings changes to the learning environment it also alters the roles educators play in how they guide students and facilitate learning experiences.  This change is particularly apparent for school librarians as both their role as an educator and the physical space of the library is shifting.  In considering these changes, I chose to focus my final practicum experience for my DEL master’s program on how the school librarian can facilitate and promote project based learning experiences.  

For this project, I chose to look at the role of the librarian because I recently began coursework to attain my library media endorsement.  Through my learning I became interested in how a school librarian directly collaborates with classroom teachers and students to create, deliver, and reflect on instruction.  This caused me to want to learn more about my school librarian’s role and how facilitating the prominent learning method project based learning might fit into that role.

Before sharing my resources is necessary to say that I have such an appreciation for my school librarian, Cyndi, and her willingness to embrace this project.  This year marks Cyndi’s 38th year as an educator and, with her tremendous experience sometimes comes a negative stigma around educators in their last few years of teaching, the idea being that they are unwilling to try out new ideas.  This is so not the case with Cyndi.  Each time we met she was eager to learn more about PBL, she brought resources and shared research she had done on her own between meetings, and our conversations often shifted to other opportunities to collaborate on all types of topics–we even planned out a few student clubs we might want to facilitate together next year!  Having such an enthusiastic educator to collaborate with definitely gave some momentum to our conversations and we are eager to see where we can take our work together to create valuable, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for students at our school.

Below, I include my complete project, an infographic I created on high quality student work in PBL, and a reflection on my next steps in continuing my learning and implementation of PBL as well as well as my collaborative work with Cyndi.

How to Get High Quality Student Work in Project Based Learning

The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) has been my go-to for resources and information on PBL.  I reflect on and share many of these resources in the summaries and next steps sections of my report, but one in particular that stood out is John Larmer’s post titled “How to Get High Quality Student Work in PBL” as I think this information is essential to understanding how to start to create a PBL learning experience.  In the infographic below I summarize his tips and insights on the topic.  I created this in hopes of having it as an easy-to-follow resource for educators.

The Role of the Librarian in Facilitating Project Based Learning Experiences

I compiled my project into a report, included below, that discusses what PBL is, provides an overview of my school, shares and summarizes my interview and collaborative experiences with my librarian, and offers resources for beginning to implement PBL at our school.

Next Steps

This project was only the start of my learning regarding project based learning and my collaborative work with Cyndi to facilitate and promote PBL at our school.  Since we still have a lot of work to do, below are the immediate next steps in continuing this project.

  1. After sharing the resources and summaries from this project with Cyndi, her and I will work together to plan a PBL experience for students next year.  We will work together to take my ninth grade English students through a PBL designed learning experience.
  2. I will advocate to my principal that Cyndi and I, along with other interested educators, would like to attend professional development on project based learning.
  3. I will follow up with the teaching and learning team in my district to see that they provide PBL professional development either on our online learning portal or through planned collaborative time.
  4. I will work with Cyndi to brainstorm ideas so she can advocate for less time managing Chromebooks or other similar tasks so she has more time to collaborate with educators across subject areas to design and deliver instruction.

References

Driving Questions Webinar. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.bie.org/object/webinars_archived/driving_questions

Larmer, J. (2013, October 1). PBL Blog: How to Get High-Quality Student work in PBL. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.bie.org/blog/how_to_get_high_quality_student_work_in_pbl

Larson, T. (n.d.). The 4Cs Research Series. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.p21.org/our-work/4cs-research-series 

Markham, T. (2017, May 08). How PBL Can Fulfill Its Promise to 21st Century Students. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.edcircuit.com/pbl-fulfill-promise-21st-century-students/

Miller, A. (2014, May 20). PBL and STEAM Education: A Natural Fit. Retrieved June 02, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-and-steam-natural-fit-andrew-miller

Project Search. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.bie.org/project_search

Recharge Learning Blog. (2015, April 06). Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://rechargelearning.blogspot.com/2015/04/collaboration-communication-crit cal.html

Waters, P. (2014, July 09). Project-Based Learning Through a Maker’s Lens. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-through-a-makers-lens-patrick-waters

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)? (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2017, from https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl