Briar was inspired by conference STRAND 2: "Librarians & Information Professionals" - Evolving Professional Roles in Today’s World. Says Briar, “I wanted to present at Library 2.011 because I saw the term ‘embedded librarian,’ an idea to which I strongly relate but which I rarely see applied at the elementary level.”
Briar has been at Berkeley Carroll since 2004 as the librarian for Grades 2-4 and has been an Independent School Librarian in New York since 1999. About two years ago she began making big changes to her library curriculum. She got the Fourth Grade library class scheduled back-to-back with computer class so that she, along with the computer teacher, could use the time flexibly for computer skills, library skills and online research skills as needed.
Briar did not stop there. That year, she was under Peer Review and was asked to imagine her ideal library program by her Review committee. She told them about all the things we learn in library school, flexible scheduling and integrating research skills into the classroom curriculum. One wise teacher said, “Sounds like you need to be working with the classroom teachers, not just the computer teacher.”
So, with the support of her Peer Review committee, she presented a proposal to the administration to overhaul her entire Third and Fourth grade curriculum. She now co-teaches with the computer teacher and the classroom teacher. They work in the library, lab, or classroom, depending on the content of the lesson. Briar attends all grade level meetings and works out a research timeline with the teachers. They figure out what the students will need to know for their research projects and then they break it down into lessons and mini-lessons leading up to their projects.
The integrated library curriculum is always dependent on the social studies curriculum and may change over time. For one unit, Briar taught three weeks of lessons on using authoritative websites followed by a short mini-lesson on using Google Docs for note-taking as students launched their explorer research. For another project she built a web page full of video and interactive resources for a trip to Ellis Island and then assisted while the students wrote immigrant journals in their docs (with factual sidebars!).
This new curriculum would not be possible without the support of the administration, a team of enthusiastic teachers up for a challenge, a reworked schedule, and a librarian for PreK-1st Grade who can help the students become independent library users by 3rd Grade. And it is not without its challenges. In her presentation, Briar will talk about all that went into her embedded curriculum: the planning, the collaboration, and the challenges. “This is messy work and we are still figuring out how best to do it. I’ve been pleased, though, by the increase in students’ capability and competence with online tools and their enthusiasm for the work we do together.”
Thanks to Briar Sauro for providing the details of her program. I hope you check out her session.
This post was brought to you by HVLA Vice President, Kimberly Pallant