Monday, December 15, 2008
Along these lines, Avery suggests ideas that can be found in your standard library-science textbook on reference work:
2. Be patient and flexible.
3. Look for body language cues.
4. Keep it short and to the point.
5. Let the students do the work.
For understanding the different setting in which a librarian might look for a "teachable moment," see the article.
Avery, Susan. "When Opportunity Knocks: Opening the Door Through Teachable Moments." The Reference Librarian 49.2 (2008): 109-18.
Rachel Cooke and Carol Bledsoe promote the idea of including the Writing Center within the campus library. Doing this would "provide opportunities for partnership" (119). This would be more convenient for the students, particularly those involved in the research and writing process. They discuss how librarians and writing tutors could provide help at each others' desks. Librarians could also train the writing tutors to do some basic research, which would benefit many students simultaneously as many tutors are actually students.
Much of the article revolves around five "challenges" encountered by reference librarians and writing tutors alike:
1. Guiding students through the sequence of the writing process (120).
2. Uncertainty about the assignment (121).
3. "The paper is due in an hour" (121).
4. When students request a librarian or writing tutor to do their research or edit their paper (122).
5. Students who say: "I can find everything on Google. I'll just cut and paste." This touches on the quantity and quality of sources as well as proper citation of these sources.
Let me make just one comment about challenge number one. The authors make a good point that librarians and tutors should not assume that the writing process is the same for everyone. Increasingly, college instructors require their students to write a paper without doing research--at least at the outset. Particularly with lower-division students, instructors find that they let the sources do the talking. Having students write their own thoughts first helps them know what they think; then they can analyze and evaluate what the sources say in comparison with their own ideas.
Therefore, once the students has written their own personal idea paper, then the instructor requires them to research in the area of their topic and write a paper that incorporates their own ideas while also considering the ideas of others. I repeat myself here, because this is something I want to remember. The idea seems to promote real learning and connecting it with real life. What do I know about X? Why do I think this way? What do others say about this topic in question? How do my ideas differ from someone else's? Do their ideas expose any gaps in my own logic? Will I change and adjust my own thinking on this? How?
Somewhat reminiscent of Hegel's model, an instructor who follows this kind of assignment encourages students to form a thesis, consider an antithesis, and then synthesize the two. Adopting this approach could facilitate higher orders of thinking for many students, since too often students revert back to their comfort zones of reporting what they find, rather than thinking about what they find in their research. These "comfort zones" hearken back to show-and-tell activities in the early stages of a child's education.
Cooke, Rachel and Carol Bledsoe. "Writing Centers and Libraries: One-Stop Shopping for Better Term Papers." The Reference Librarian 49.2 (2008): 119-27.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Anyway, I largely forgot about this, until recently I wondered if it had gathered any statistics for me. It shows a report of the last month's activity on my site. Apparently, 139 people have viewed my blog in the last month, but these people have visited it 149 times. It's likely that I am the only repeat visitor. Please tell me if this is not the case. 70.75% found my blog via a search engine. 19.05% found the site from a referring site, perhaps a blog reader. That leaves 10.20% who visit this blog directly, so I guess that would be me. 50 pages were viewed a total of 216 times.
How should I interpret this data? I do not know for sure, but the cool thing I liked about the report was it's feature that showed me which pages were visited the most. It gave a top four list:
1. Library Instruction A La Carte Information Literacy
2. Updated Teaching Philosophy
3. Active Learning Ideas
4. How Do You Know if it's Scholarly
I like how it shows the average amount of time a person viewed your page. The "Updated Teaching Philosophy" averaged about 8 minutes a view, while the "Active Learning Ideas" page was viewed about 6 minutes a view. It's just fascinating to me that I can track this now. I'm not sure how this will affect what I do with my blog. It seems that the proprietors of the blog applications and the analytics applications would want you to understand a bit how you are reaching out to the world, perhaps that would inspire the blogger to write a bit more and consider topics that would appeal to a larger audience.
We shall see if I write about this more in the future. There are certainly sites and blogs that discuss ways in which the bloggers can make their blogs more prominent and visible.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
What the student and I did not know was that "book binding" may not find you what you want, but "bookbinding" may. Who would know that it was one word instead of two? I am just glad the subject-heading strategy worked in this case.
Knowing how to use the subject heading can be rather useful. Thinking of synonyms for terms can also be helpful, although a search for book and binding or bookbinding would bring back more than 100 results. Again, once a person identifies a book that they think will match their information needs, they can look at the full record to view the subject headings available. Clicking on the subject heading may retrieve additional useful results.
During the month of November works of art have been hanging in the Current Display area. Afterwards they will be sent back to other locations in the Library.
Anyone can donate books to the Oboler Library. We also have a Book Swap rack where individuals may bring a book in exchange for one on the rack.
Recently, the Library has begun a continuous book sale. A stand of books are always for sale near the Circulation Desk. I have heard that it is going rather well. I frequently see people looking at the books available.
We rented the hat, boots, and shirt from a local rental place, but most of the paraphernalia came from Library colleagues. We bought the eye patch and the parrot from the rental place.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Students in an English class could take or find five photos of their choice and write a story about those five photos. Photos could be uploaded to a photo-sharing site, tagged, and linked to a blog with the story. The photos can also be posted to the blog.
History or Art Classes
Have students take five photos of different buildings around town that represent different architectural styles or historical time periods. Post the photos to a photo-sharing site and tag the photos using terms and ideas from class. Email a link to the teacher, so s/he can view the photos. Teachers can give additional feedback and insight.
Search for Photos Related to Class
Use Picasa Web Albums or Flickr to find images related to class. Encourage students to document their search, so they should tell which photo-sharing site they used, which terms they entered the search box, and the results they got back. Have them identify one image that at first seemed unrelated, but later proved to be relevant. Tell them to explain and/or analyze what happened. Example: I searched for images about “Abraham Lincoln” in Flickr. Naturally, it made sense to find images of Pres. Lincoln in Mt. Rushmore and at the Lincoln Memorial, but a small headstone did not appear relevant. Once I clicked on this image, I saw it was Dred Scott’s headstone. The photo included an explanation of who he was and his impact on American history—that his court case helped Abraham Lincoln win the presidential election.
Take Photos of Things Related to Class
Students in a chemistry class could look for items such as corroded batteries, rusted nails or cars, fizzing alka seltzer, burning matches, etc. With the photos they could also bring questions about how it works. This could be turned into a show-and-tell assignment that each student could do once a semester.
Math and history classes could easily do this as well. Those in math classes could take pictures of cones, cylinders, squares, building, cash registers, computers, leaves, etc. They could highlight some mathematical principle to describe their items. History students could take pictures of plaques, monuments, or statues that help the community remember events or individuals from the past. They could also photograph items owned by family or friends that hearken back to different times: army uniforms, classic cars, wagon wheels, etc.
Much of learning involves language acquisition and understanding how knowledge fits within the larger context of life. The photos prompt students to find images relevant to what they are learning in the classroom. Once they have found or taken photos, they can write or talk about the decisions they made. This can be a mechanism that aids students in developing written, speech, evaluation, and analytical skills.
Use photo sharing to:
• teach students how to search for royalty free photos for project (creative commons licensing in Flickr is great for this!)
• post a picture of the day for students to comment on
• create a montage of photos on a curricular topic
• create an online photo journal with students to capture a field trip or special event
See this wiki.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Applying the CRAAP Test
Give an assignment to students, asking them to search online to answer a question about United States history (or whatever topic you choose). They might use Google, Yahoo, or any search engine of their choice. Have students create a Delicious account. Tell students to bookmark websites they feel will help them with their research. Assign students to groups of two or three and have the students look at the websites their classmates found, using the Delicious application. They could use the CRAAP Test to determine whether or not the websites were good ones: www.isu.edu/library/help/ineteval.htm. This activity develops evaluation skills and invites students to be more critical of websites.
Search with Delicious
Invite students to search within Delicious (http://delicious.com). In a history class, they might search “civil war.” They would then find websites that others had marked as bookmarks. Remember that the more a website is bookmarked, the greater its chances of being a reliable or useful site.
Worksheets with Delicious
Let students find answers to questions on a handout through the websites you have bookmarked and tagged. Bookmarks can be grouped into “Bundles,” so hints and reference to particular “Bundles” may assist students as they navigate your bookmarks to answer the questions on the handout. It is possible to create Delicious accounts specific to a class and separate from personal accounts. As far as I know, nobody has been limited in the number of Delicious accounts they create.
Find Five Websites for Your Project
Tell students to look for five websites that would be good for a particular research assignment. Then ask them to send these websites to your Delicious account. Do this by including the following tag: for:(+ account name.) Ex: for:sjardine. The saved websites go to your Delicious Inbox, identifying from whom they came.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The keywords above in the boldface type are my favorites--the ones I want to describe me as a teacher.
Thinking about these keywords that describe good teachers may help those of us who do teach to think about what we want to be and compare that with what we are in the classroom. Sometimes if feels that I am a dull and boring teacher. I need to think of ways to spice up my teaching. Recently, in a conversation with a friend, I heard someone talk about her involvement in a musical. She has performed in this production for a month or more, and there have been nights when it's hard to get excited. Her director encourages her and her colleagues to think of one thing they will do differently during the course of the production. While she may not have mentioned this I imagined they could do a slightly different move or flourish, pick out a child in the audience to sing to or wink at, emphasize a few words differently, etc. She did say that this has helped her perform better. As teachers we ought to consider small things we could do differently, so we can avoid ruts in our teaching.
One presenter at the Boot Camp invited us to write a teaching epitaph [it feels so appropriate to talking about epitaphs right now as Halloween is only two days away]. Here's one that I wrote: "Here lies Spencer Jardine, a competent and loving teacher who inspired students to achieve their great potential--excellence that spilled over into their lives and blessed countless number of individuals." When I was an undergraduate I really liked a class and a teacher who talked about arete = or the classical Greek definition of excellence. It's good to work to achieve personal excellence. It seems that someone else may have written the following epitaph, but I would like to adopt it as well: "Here lies Spencer Jardine who inspired students to engage in the exciting and noble cause of learning."
"Deep, man, deep."
One message that seemed to repeat itself during the conference was that teachers need to do what they most want to do as teachers. Too often teachers do not think about what they want to do most, which means they do not do what they most want to do. How's that as a recipe for dissatisfaction?
Do it. Do it right. Do it right now!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Divide the class into four: the Agreers, the Naysayers, the Questioners, and the Example Givers. After lecturing or presenting a demonstration, allow students to discuss in their groups. Agreers will think of two items to agree on about the lecture, while the Nay-sayers consider two items they might disagree with. Questioners make two questions to ask the instructor. They can ask for clarification or any question related to the material, including “So what?” and “Why is this important for us?” Last, the Example Givers provide two examples of how the information presented will be useful. They should work to answer the question: “How can we apply the information given to a given scenario?” Each group reports back to the class. (Silberman, Mel. Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject. pp. 72.)
Groups Applying the CRAAP Test
Find enough abstracts for the various groups in the class; make sure they have all the article citation information along with the abstract. Generally, I like groups to have three or four persons working together. Tell the students what kind of research question you have in mind. Write it on the board or display it somewhere so they can see it. They need to determine in their groups if they think the article in question is Current, Relevant, Authoritative, and Accurate. The P stands for Purpose. Student must understand the purpose of the author and the article. After three or four minutes groups report back to the rest of the class. Sometimes it helps to find an article first and develop a question that it answers, so at least one abstract passes the CRAAP Test. It may also be instructive to have an article from a popular source, so you can discuss authoritative issues and so forth. (Evaluating Information—Applying the CRAAP Test.)
This is a poor man’s clicker-response system. Create a quiz with a PowerPoint Presentation. Hand out cards with A, B, C, D, and E; large, bold, and colored letters may work best. Divide the class into groups of two or three, and have them work to answer the quiz in their groups. Each group holds up the answer to the question. Ask them not to look at other groups before answering. If multiple groups do not answer the question correctly give some additional instruction. This is a great way to get immediate feedback. Those who think well on their feet may be able to create questions and possible answers in the classroom, but, generally speaking, it may be best to consider beforehand what you consider to be most important and make questions that ask for comprehension of those key points.
Find out what students have learned from your presentation or lecture. Ask them to take out a piece of paper and write down answers to the questions you will be asking. Discuss the answers together as a class. Give the quiz at the beginning, middle, or end of a class. Students tend to learn more the sooner the feedback is returned to them.
Demonstrations aka Demos
No, not the kind of student protests that were popular in the ‘60s, but showing how to use databases. Don’t be afraid to demo the databases. As with any activity, it is important to ask yourself some basic questions: What’s most important for students to know? Can they learn it better with a handout, hands-on time, or some other way? What do you want them to take away from the demonstration? How much should you leave for them to discover on their own? What do you know that will save them time and help them be more strategic in their research.
Worksheets allow students to proceed at their own pace and can be effective active-learning tools. They can walk students through database interfaces and catalogs while instructing them on how to construct effective searching techniques. Try to avoid creating worksheets that serve solely as busy work, but remember that some students prefer hands-on practice over listening to a lecture or demonstration. Most students learn more by doing than by listening. Freshmen and lower-division students in their general-education courses seem to respond more to worksheets better than upper-division students. Students can keep worksheets as a reference guide to help them when they have research questions in the future.
This worksheet may be best for upper-division students or for students who already know what they want to research. The worksheet allows students to write down all the bibliographic information for five articles or books they believe will be useful in helping them to answer their research question. The instructions read like this: “identify three to five potential sources that might be useful for your paper and write down all the citation information you can find.” Students apply the CRAAP Test to one of the sources they have selected and write their analysis on the bottom half of the page. This gives them practice understanding all the elements of a citation. You may want to provide some contact information to the Reference Desk, your Ask-A-Librarian service, or your email address in case they have questions later.
Research shows that there are good lecturers and poor lecturers. Robert Leamnson argues: “In spite of the many witticisms to the contrary (‘the sage on the stage’ and the like), a major function of teaching is, and will remain so in the future, talking to students. Everything else (except the diploma, of course) they can get without paying tuition” (Thinking About Teaching and Learning 67). Nonetheless, many believe that the punctuated lecture is best. Lecture for 15-20 minutes then give a quiz, think-pair-share, or another activity. It’s best to get feedback to see if they understand; be willing to adjust your content of the class, so students will learn what you feel to be most important for them. Most individuals learn best when they interact with concepts in a variety of ways: listening, reading, writing, speaking, role playing, etc.
If you have a class that will not respond to you, have them discuss a question or problem with another classmate before having the groups report back to the class. This has helped out in many cases for me. It is great for all classes, but especially for literature classes. I have found it to be beneficial in the Library when we have led discussion on plagiarism. Students take out a piece of paper and write down their answers to a questions, then they turn to a neighbor to discuss the answer. Students will often listen more to a fellow peer than to an instructor. Consider the dynamics of the class first; a quiet morning class may benefit from this activity more than a boisterous afternoon class. Besides, it may be difficult to get the groups to stop talking and gather their attention enough to discuss as a whole class.
Analogies & Stories
Admittedly, this technique may require more active cerebral power on the instructor’s part, but an analogy or relevant story can make the material more accessible for students. The more basic the better. Try analogies that a large audience will understand. If it relates to their own personal experience it will make more sense to them. By and large, a majority of people appreciate stories, so tell stories that illustrate a point about researching and using the appropriate library tools.
I have not really done this, except to ask students to stand up if they are wearing blue jeans, then for those who are wearing blue jeans and a sweater remain standing. This demonstrates a Boolean search statement. Explain that the more search terms entered in a query with the AND operator connecting them returns fewer results. The OR operator returns more results; connect synonyms or related terms with the OR operator and separate them from unrelated terms with parentheses. Having to stand up really gets their attention. Showing Venn diagrams also seems to be an effective way in explain Boolean operators.
Identify the Term
Give the definition of an important term and ask students to name that concept. Much of learning requires language acquisition, which emphasizes the importance of speaking, hearing, reading, and writing. Robert Leamnson devotes an entire chapter to language in his book Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students.
Determine which categories you believe to be important, then ask questions to fit within those categories. Categories for libraries might include the following: databases, Boolean operators, catalog tips & tricks, library miscellaneous, library basics, resources, students and patrons. A PowerPoint presentation can be manipulated quite easily to support the Jeopardy format. Use a table to insert the point values, then right-click the number and hyperlink it to the appropriate slide with the question. The next slide can have the answer in the form of a question with an image hyperlinked back to the grid with the categories and point values. Mel Silberman’s book Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject includes a description of a Jeopardy Review. See page 163.
For a semester-long information-literacy course, a useful activity may be to require students to create their own blog and post a certain number of assignments. These assignments could discuss their efforts to find good web sites, useful books in the catalog, relevant articles in the databases, and any number of creative assignments that ask for students to analyze, apply, synthesize, evaluate, etc. information.
If we want students to be intelligent contributors to society, we can help them develop better conversation skills. In classroom settings we can engage the students in conversations about academic and information-literacy issues. Learn how to coach students in such a way that it prompts them to considers sides of an issue of which they may not be aware. Ask them to explain themselves, analyze an issue, evaluate resources, synthesize ideas, and come to conclusions. Of course, this may be best in a semester-long class, rather than a one-shot, library-instruction session. Students need to practice speaking and thinking like adults and in front of others, although they may not be inclined to do this. Always be lavish with your praise when a student does engage in a conversation with you in front of the whole class. This idea of student conversations comes from Robert Leamnson's Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students. He used this method in his classes.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Library divide into groups before they go to different parts of the library to answer questions. When they return, the larger group goes on the tour, and those students who answered questions give the tour to their peers while the librarian stands to the side, periodically contributing additional information. Students, then, teach each other about the library. Apparently, instructors and students have enjoyed this.
In the California State University at Stanislaus Library they will be playing golf in the library to help their students improve their putts and knowledge of the library building and resources. A guide shows them where to tee off, inserting useful information about the library. On the east coast, the University of South Carolina Upstate Library incorporates an iPod into the tour as well as a worksheet for them to fill out. Students must travel around the library and complete various tasks, including copy articles of interest out of encyclopedias, magazines, and reference books as well as answer questions regarding the library services and resources.
Here, at Idaho State's Oboler Library we conduct traditional tours to familiarize students with our library. We hope students will understand better what the library offers--more than just books--and have a positive experience that will draw them back to ask us questions and take advantage of the study space, the books, the computers, the videos, the services, etc. If you want a tour of the Eli M. Oboler Library, please contact me to arrange a time and date. jardspen(at)isu.edu
Zander, Rosamund Stone and Benjamin Zander. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.
The content of this book lives up to the promise offered in the title. Rosamund and Benjamin Zander work together in seamless fashion to identify a few attitudes that can transform our lives. They emphasize the importance of “Rule Number 6”—Don’t take yourself so seriously, giving others an A, accepting things as they are in order to make better choices, and stepping into a world of possibility.
Another reviewer, a medical doctor named Christiane Northrup, offered this useful comment: “The very act of reading it with an open heart and mind will improve your health!” Indeed, the fresh anecdotes interweaved with insightful observations can really be liberating to say the least.
Originally, the Harvard Business School Press requested that the Zanders write a how-to book for both a business and a lay audience. Benjamin Zander relies on his plentiful successes as the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, while Roz works from a different perspective—family therapy. These perspectives cast a holistic view onto their basic premises. For a sample of their style go to www.ted.com and key “Benjamin Zander on music and passion” into their search box for a 21-minute, inspirational video. It’s no wonder that their book became a national bestseller.
If you would like to read this book, check the ISU library catalog (or your own public library catalog) to verify its availability and call number.
Leamnson, Robert. Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 1999.
Leamnson defines teaching as “any activity that has the conscious intention of, and potential for, facilitating learning in another.” Throughout the book Leamnson keeps a steady outlook on teaching. Unlike some proponents of teaching, he does not put his faith entirely in one pedagogical method; rather, he encourages teachers to develop an assortment of approaches in the classroom. In recent years the lecture has fallen on hard times, yet Leamnson still argues in favor of the lecture as long as it accompanies other techniques like quizzes, collaborative groups, dialogues with students, and so forth. These practical suggestions can be tried in the classroom among others not mentioned here.
With only 152 pages it exists as a rather quick read, and the fact that it does not delve into deep philosophical question makes it even more accessible to a broader audience of academics. His writing style tends to engage the reader. For anyone interested in improving their teaching, this book can really get you started on the right foot with down-to-earth pointers and encouragement to challenge students to engage in real learning. Check the Oboler catalog to verify availability and call number.
Friday, August 1, 2008
A large part of Boot Camp centered on developing a personal teaching philosophy. This activity allowed us to synthesize much of the information from workshops and provided opportunities for introspection on key elements of teaching such as collaborative learning, lecturing, learning, active learning, ethics, assessment, students, language, affective environments, methodology, etc. Anyone interested in reading my teaching philosophy pre- and post-Boot Camp can look at my blog: www.spencerjardine.blogspot.com. Teachers need to empower students by providing them with information and activities/challenges that will actually bring about real learning.
Other participants in the Boot Camp promoted learning with the help of the instructors. 25 individuals came from 11 different institutions to learn from 10 instructors. Generally, the day began with a 9:00 workshop that lasted until noon and other workshops resumed at 2:30 and lasted until 5:00. Evening and lunch breaks allowed for participants to develop teaching philosophies, create lesson plans, relax, socialize, and read from the resources given to us. On Wednesday afternoon all participants could do whatever they chose. Among the possibilities I opted to go mountain biking at 8,000 feet, so I learned how to climb up and over mountain trails without crashing and injuring myself. An instructor of mechanical engineering from Boise State gave me pointers. After climbing the steeper part of the trail we rode on an older gentler railroad bed that allowed us to talk about teaching, libraries, learning, and life. I stabilized a few synapses involving my motor skills and talked about the dilemmas academic libraries in Idaho face with the one-time funds for serials from the state legislature.
Instructors frequently divided participants into groups, so we could participate in collaborative-learning activities. These activities can punctuate lectures. Instead of having lectures gobble up all the class time, an instructor can use a variety of activities and assessments to cement learning or understand the comprehension of the students. For example, a visual quiz might be a valuable activity for an instruction librarian. After showing students where to find important resources via the library homepage, the instructor can quiz the students to verify that they listened and understood. Groups of three or four students can work together and raise a large colored letter that corresponds with the answer their group chose to a multiple-choice question. This allows the instructor to provide further explanations or feedback if a particular concept was not understood.
A scientific approach to learning supports the use of active- and collaborative-learning techniques. Studies have found that learning sticks when more parts of the brain are used. Possibly, some of you may be thinking this is a “no-brainer,” but this means that students should not only listen to lectures, they need to talk about the material, ask questions, and write down what they have learned. Language acquisition lies at the heart of real learning, which means students should learn by listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Group work, if done effectively, can propel students to engage with the material and enhance their learning significantly.
I look forward to studying the materials given me as part of this boot camp. They boxed up my books and have sent them in the mail at book/media rates, so we would not have to pay extra when we returned on our flights home. [Incidentally, the box of books was shipped from Leadville, CO, on a Saturday, and it arrived in Pocatello, ID, office on a Wednesday. Could be a record.] Ideas and techniques from the boot camp will be useful in the library’s instruction program. I had an opportunity to create a syllabus for an eight-week, information-literacy course, which would be fun to teach in the future. To see an English 101 lesson plan that I created, go to the Instruction Folder on the J Drive and click on the “English 101.doc.”
On a lighter note, other participants enjoyed having a librarian in the group. At one point one of the instructors talked about students needing information and going to Google for answers. I blurted out “Or ask a librarian!” This ignited loud laughter from everyone, and several approached me later and said they appreciated how I had put in a plug for library resources. One even commented that I had offered the most memorable “quip” of the entire boot camp. That same day I talked about the CRAAP Test, and this garnered even more attention for libraries and the need for library instruction. Many kept asking me for the meaning of the acronym; they want to use it in their own classes now. One asked for the website with the fuller explanation, which I willingly sent her: www.isu.edu/library/help/ineteval.htm.
Personally, the mountain scenery and the cooler temperatures proved to be very refreshing. Each morning and most evenings I went running, walking, or biking among the trails in the forest and enjoyed gazing at the tallest mountains in Colorado—Mt. Elbert (14,433 = #1), Mt. Massive (14,421 = #2), Mt. Sheridan, Mt. Galena, and Mt. Sherman (14,036 = #46) [www.sangres.com/mountains/index1.htm]. One evening I had the opportunity to watch the film Freedom Writers, which focuses on the success of one teacher in southern California who helps her students change their lives and broaden their horizons in her English class. It proved to be inspiring and underscored many of the points shared in the workshops.
I give the instructors, colleagues, and guests of Boot Camp for Profs an A.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Since a young age I have immersed myself in books. As an undergraduate and graduate student in the humanities, I spent large amounts of time studying and using the resources in the library. Toward the end of my master’s program I began talking more with librarians and decided to pursue librarianship as a career. It matched my insatiable interest in learning, my desire to help other people, and my inclinations to teach in an academic setting. Becoming information literate has become essential in today’s society. Knowing where and how to find the most relevant information can really be a vital skill. With my duties as a reference and instruction librarian I can teach in many situations and also be involved in many areas of information. I find that the more I become involved in a subject the more interesting it becomes; libraries and research techniques have become much more fascinating to me, and I hope students and instructors can benefit from the knowledge I have gained in recent years.
For me, teaching is a very respected and challenging endeavor. Unlike many activities in life, it seems to be more difficult to gauge the success of a teacher, because the outcomes of teaching are difficult to measure. A student’s brain growth cannot easily be measured. Nonetheless, I want to influence students to become thinkers and eager learners. As a librarian I focus a lot on helping students navigate the realm of information and evaluating their results. As an individual I love to read about many diverse topics, and delving deeper into a subject of interest. Likewise I want to share my passion for information and knowledge with students.
Teaching effectively demands great rigor and intellectual effort. Few individuals possess innate abilities to teach well, rather most successful teachers have become so after diligent efforts to understand the nature of teaching and learning. The best teachers recognize what their students need most and develop practical strategies for accomplishing those ends. This iteration of my teaching philosophy relies heavily on the ideas of Robert Leamnson whose ideas are still fresh in my mind after reading his book Thinking About Teaching and Learning. This written philosophy will enable me to stand firm in promoting student learning habits that will empower them to achieve their long-term goals; I have perceived that many student attitudes impede their learning powers and ultimately their maximum potential.
Learning requires the cooperation of the brain. In biological terms Leamnson provides this definition: “Learning is defined as stabilizing, through repeated use, certain appropriate and desirable synapses in the brain” (5). Therefore, continual use of the same synapses would not constitute real learning; instead, creating new synapses and neural roads within the brain indicate that learning has taken place. In this physical sense learning is an actual physical activity that requires time, effort, and patience. Additionally, I believe that learning can occur throughout one’s entire lifetime, yet the more someone learns the more complex things become.
Robert Leamnson argues that “language is at the heart of the matter” (7). His arguments make sense on many levels, because teachers still need tangible or oral evidence from students that learning has taken place. Traditionally, instructors require students to give presentations, take tests, and write papers, which relies on language skills such as speaking, reading, and writing. I believe the best teachers repeatedly persuade and coax students to participate in all these forms of language skills. My goal is to incorporate more collaborative and active learning strategies to make the learning process more exciting and effective for students. Collaborative learning requires that students make use of more parts of the brain.
From personal experience, I have felt better about my learning accomplishments to the extent that I have been active in speaking, writing, and reading about the content at hand. As a graduate student I had more fear of speaking up than I did as an undergraduate; I felt more pressure to say something brilliant. Students need to get started talking, build off of their peer’s ideas, and synthesize their learning. Fears need to be diminished in the classroom, and I want students to feel comfortable and safe expressing their ideas. They need validation, so I hope to recognize their contributions in a positive manner. The affective component in learning is vital.
In today’s society too many individuals believe that they can obtain certain goals without going through the legwork those goals require. An article (I believe it may have been in The Atlantic) I read recently discussed the dirty work of teaching in under-privileged universities and community colleges where the freshmen are very unprepared for the rigors of academic work. The author ends the article with an allusion to one film that all freshmen seem to know—The Wizard of Oz. In the end the scarecrow receives a diploma and suddenly he can think, yet his spouting off of facts hardly constitutes real thinking (X 73).
While the article’s author didn’t mention it, Dorothy had to be told the solution to her dilemma. Today’s students seem to be like the scarecrow and Dorothy, they want all the answers and diplomas given to them. There seems to be a mentality that if they paid the dues, they have the right to the piece of paper in the end. When this happens it really does not prepare them for future challenges in life. I believe that students need to be challenged in and out of the classroom; they may know what they want, but they likely do not understand the kind of work accomplishing that goal entails. I want to be a mentor and a colleague for students, one that coaches students on the ins and outs of the research process.
I believe that my teaching efforts make a difference. Evidence of good teaching may not always be easy to measure; however, articulate students who can express themselves through speaking and writing may provide evidence of a teacher’s influence. My confidence, or lack thereof, as a teacher will be a significant factor in my abilities to persuade students to learn. I trust that strategic preparation will increase my knowledge, interest, and confidence in the classroom, which will in turn influence the students to engage with the subject matter and learning beyond the walls of the classroom. Strategic preparation will be necessary throughout my entire career, as all situations differ one from another.
The field of teaching and learning includes many different schools of thought. Adherence to one particular teaching method will not produce the greatest amount of learning among my students; instead, a healthy variety of techniques enacted at strategic moments will increase the desired results. Therefore, lectures, group work, dialogues with students in class, short essays, quizzes, handouts, guest lectures, term papers, exams, etc. may all prove to be useful in promoting the restructuring of student brains—learning in other words.
Ultimately, my ability to love the students will determine my success or failure as a teacher. Love will prompt me to look students in the eyes, listen to them, respect them as real individuals with a history and personal connections to others, and prepare for class adequately. If I love the students I will be less willing to talk about myself and more willing to treat them as friends—not criticizing them in a way that will demean or insult them. I will work to involve all in the classroom and praise them for positive efforts and participation in the class. I will seek to make the class interesting and challenging, while also striving for fairness and in class policies. I will work to follow the professional ethics established by my profession and institution as well as my own personal values and belief system.
Leamnson, Robert. Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning and
Plummer, Thomas G. “Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome.” Thinking About Thinking: A Collection of Essays, Revised Edition. Ed. M. Kip Hartvigsen.
X, Professor. “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower.” The Atlantic Monthly 301.5 (June 2008): 68-73.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Learning requires the cooperation of the brain. In biological terms Leamnson provides this definition: “Learning is defined as stabilizing, through repeated use, certain appropriate and desirable synapses in the brain” (5). Therefore, continual use of the same synapses would not constitute real learning; instead, creating new synapses and neural roads within the brain indicate that learning has taken place. In this physical sense learning is an actual physical activity that may indeed cause the head to hurt as a result of the growth that has taken place. Additionally, I believe that learning can occur throughout one’s entire lifetime.
Robert Leamnson argues that “language is at the heart of the matter” (7). Presently, his arguments make sense to me on many levels, because teachers still need tangible or oral evidence from students that learning has taken place. Traditionally, instructors require students to give presentations, take tests, and write papers. Each of these activities relies on language skills in the forms of speaking, reading, and writing. I believe that the best teachers repeatedly persuade and coax students to participate in all these forms of language skills.
In today’s society too many individuals believe that they can obtain certain goals without going through the legwork those goals require. An article (I believe it may have been in The Atlantic) I read recently discussed the dirty work of teaching in under-privileged universities and community colleges where the freshmen are very unprepared for the rigors of academic work. He ends the article with an allusion to one film that all freshmen seem to know—The Wizard of Oz. In the end the scarecrow receives a diploma and suddenly he can think, yet his spouting off of facts hardly constitutes real thinking.
While the author didn’t mention it, Dorothy had to be told the solution to her dilemma in the end. Today’s students seem to be like the scarecrow, Dorothy and Shakespeare’s Ophelia, they want all the answers and diplomas given to them. When this happens it really does not prepare them for future challenges in life. I believe that students need to be challenged in and out of the classroom; they may know what they want, but they likely do not understand the kind of work accomplishing that goal entails.
I believe that my teaching efforts make a difference. Evidence of good teaching may not always be easy to measure; however, articulate students who can express themselves through speaking and writing may be evidence of a teacher’s influence. My confidence, or lack thereof, as a teacher will be a significant factor in my abilities to persuade students to learn. I trust that strategic preparation will increase my knowledge, interest, and confidence in the classroom, which will in turn influence the students to engage with the subject matter and learning beyond the walls of the classroom.
The field of teaching and learning includes many different schools of thought. Adherence to one particular teaching method will not produce the greatest amount of learning among my students; instead, a healthy variety of techniques enacted at strategic moments will increase the desired results. Therefore, lectures, group work, dialogues with students in class, short essays, quizzes, handouts, guest lectures, term papers, exams, etc. may all prove to be useful in promoting the restructuring of student brains—learning in other words.
Ultimately, my ability to love the students will determine my success or failure as a teacher. Love will prompt me to look students in the eyes, listen to them, respect them as real individuals with a history and personal connections to others, and prepare for class adequately. If I love the students I will be less willing to talk about myself and more willing to treat them as friends—not criticizing them in a way that will demean or insult them. I will work to involve all in the classroom and praise them for positive efforts and participation in the class. I will seek to make the class interesting and challenging.
1. The ideas in this philosophy have been heavily influenced by Robert Leamnson’s book titled Thinking About Teaching and Learning: Developing Habits of Learning and First Year College and University Students. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 1999.
2. For more on the Ophelia Syndrome read Thomas G. Plummer’s “Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome.” Thinking About Thinking: A Collection of Essays, Revised Edition. Ed. M. Kip Hartvigsen. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999. 181-190.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Badke encourages information professionals and professors to use Wikipedia as a learning tool--writing skills, editing, fact checking, etc. Teachers throughout the academic world have already done so, and Wikipedia even provides pages for helping teachers do it well. It teaches students how to do research. He argues that banning this resource only fosters the anti-academic subculture that seems to thrive on Wikipedia and in the digital realm.
One interesting point he made involves the usage of the terms "analog" and "digital." Academics still reside in the "analog" realm; sure they publish articles digitally, yet they still publish them in tidy volumes and issues. Those in the "digital" realm edit and revise an article regularly, seemingly continuously.
Don't get me wrong. Badke does not necessarily recommend that students cite Wikipedia articles in their research papers. Like encyclopedias these reference materials can give somebody basic background information to launch them on more in-depth research. After all, even Wikipedia articles must contain a list of sources that verify their information.
It's worth reading:
Badke, William. "What to Do With Wikipedia." Online: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals 32.2: (2008), 48-50.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Phil talks about the difference between a catalog and an index. He often begins his instruction sessions with a straightforward question like: "What can you find in the library?" He writes the answers from the class on the board: books, magazines, journals, maps, CDs, DVDs, periodicals, newspapers, indexes, etc. He then asks a question like: "What will you find in journals and books?" Answers might include articles, chapters, poems, short stories, etc. The chalkboard is divided into two sections, and answers to the two questions appear on either side. Again, he asks: "What is the difference between one side and the other?" Answer: one side shows parts of a whole, and the other side shows the wholes.
At this point he says that you will find the parts in an index or database, and the wholes can be found in the catalog. Therefore, articles, poems, chapters, short stories, etc. and/or their titles will be found in an index or anthology, while titles to books, CDs, videos, magazines, newspapers, indexes, anthologies, journals, maps/atlases, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. will be found in a catalog. A library catalog, therefore, will tell you what that library has inside its building. (True, many catalogs include links to websites, especially government websites, since most of their "documents" are now "born digital.") An index will give you titles of articles, books, poems, etc., that may not be within the library itself, but which you can request via interlibrary loan.
An approach such as this seems pretty straightforward, yet it can really make sense to students and be just the thing to help them conceptualize the library and its resources.
Catalogs Contain Records about the Whole Item (This allows you to learn about as well as find items in the physical library.)
- Videos (DVDs, videocassettes, films, etc.)
- Musical scores
- Topics in the books (See the end-of-book index)
- Short stories
|"Card Catalog?" OSU Archives. Flickr.com.|
Today the instruction librarians met for a meeting. We talked about a First Year Seminar [FYS] instruction request form, which is being coded today. It includes a menu of options for the instructors in the FYS program. They are no longer required to bring their freshmen students to the library for instruction, so we hope that giving them more options and flexibility will entice them to come. Students need to feel comfortable in the library; those who do tend to succeed more than those who do not.
Anyway, two librarians graciously demonstrated signature components of their teaching sessions. The first drew an inverted triangle and began to explain the research process with the use of her illustration. Anyone starting a research project (especially a project on an unfamiliar topic) would do well to consult the reference resources. As my colleague mentioned, professors assume that students have basic background information on their topics--that they are consulting encyclopedias before doing their research, yet we librarians see that students do not take advantage of these resources--at least not the ones in print.
Students frequently hear their professors condemn encyclopedia articles as sources worthy of citing. They understand that they must cite X amount of articles and-or books, so they skip the step of consulting an encyclopedia article when it could be extremely beneficial to them in a number of ways. First, it gives them a basic backdrop for understanding the article or books they read later. Second, it can identify keywords they can use later in their database searching. Third, it contains a list of references they can then consult to further their research.
Anyway, the broad base of the triangle is where you begin the research with reference materials, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, etc. Books fill the second portion, and journal articles fill the last tip of the triangle. In sessions I have taught, I included another segment to the triangle for personal interviews and personal experience. Students ought to reference their own life experiences and compare and contrast them with the ideas encountered in their research process.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Savolainen, Reijo. "Information Behavior and Information Practice: Reviewing the 'Umbrella Concepts' of Information-Seeking Studies." Library Quarterly 77.2 (2007): 109-32.
Savolainen looks at the historical uses of these terms, pointing out that "information behavior" has been around since the 1960s among information specialists. He notes that it has various forms: "The concept of information behavior may appear as a part of a longer phrase, for example, 'information-seeking behavior' or 'human information behavior.' In general, information behavior may be conceptualized as including 'how people need, seek, manage, give and use information in different contexts'" (112). If someone has a question and needs more information to answer that question, how do they go about finding that information? How do individuals keep track of that information once they have found it? Will they share it with others, and in which contexts will they do so?
Information practice refers more to the information habits individuals have established in their everyday lives. Reading the morning newspaper, listening to the radio on the drive to work, talking with co-workers, or watching the local evening news could all be construed as "information practice." Both of the phrases in question interest information professionals. For librarians, knowing the practices of an individual may offer recognizable avenues for helping a patron with an information need, thus influencing their behavior. Information-literacy instruction sessions endeavor to offer students strategies for improving their information behavior, particularly when they face a research project.
Toward the end of Savolainen's article a succinct definition and comparison of the two phrases appears: "Ultimately, the major concepts of behavior and practice seem to denote the same phenomena: they deal with the ways in which people 'do things.' The concepts of information behavior and information practice both seem to refer to the ways in which people 'deal with information.' the major difference is that within the discourse on information behavior, the 'dealing with information' is primarily seen to be triggered by needs and motives, while the discourse on information practice accentuates the continuity and habitualization of activities affected and shaped by social and cultural factors" (126).
Why is this important? I tried to address this earlier, but Savolainen cuts to the core of the matter better than I do as s/he defends this exercise as something useful and important--not just "academic hairsplitting." (How many angels can fit on the head of pin? = true discussion in the medieval universities.) Savolainen writes: "However, as the present study suggests, the preference for umbrella terms is not a self-evident or innocent choice of terminology that can be justified solely by stylistic reasons. On the contrary, there is a genuine need to generate a self-reflexive and critical attitude among researchers toward their familiar concepts in order to avoid being 'trapped' in their own discursive formations" (127).
Following are more citations that can point you to sources of the quotation marks within the quotation marks in the first and second quotations above:
Fisher, Karen; Erdelez, Sanda; and McKechnie, Lynne (E.F.) eds. Theories of Information Behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2005. [See pg. xix of the "Preface."]
Tuominen, Kimmo; Savolainen, Reijo; and Talja, Sanna. "Information Literacy as a Sociotechnical Practice." Library Quarterly 75.3 (2005): 329-45.
Essentially, this article qualifies as a review of the literature as it analyzes how scholars and experts have used and reflected on the terms of "information behavior" and "information practice." A study of all 84 of the articles and books could be useful for those wanting to steep themselves in the ideas of information literacy.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Like I do before most of my instruction sessions I practice many searches in the databases, particularly related to the the subject of the class. Generally, the instructors send me a few ideas of topics in which the students may have some interest. After finding a few results from a search that I had conducted, I looked at the abstracts and the document information attached to the articles. Recently, I had been feeling that I have not emphasized information-literacy skills as much as I would prefer. With this in mind, I decided to choose four or five abstracts from the results list of a search and hand them out to students in the class, so they could conduct their own analysis of the results.
By focusing their attention on one abstract and its accompanying citation elements, the students could practice using the evaluation criteria outlined in the CRAAP Test. Using the acronym CRAAP can help researchers remember five important points when evaluating many sources (Yes, our library webpage uses this test only in context of evaluating websites, but it can be useful for all types of resources.). Here are the five points:
In groups of two, students read the citation and the abstract before discussing among themselves the different criteria. For this particular class that focused on physical education and sports history, I found some articles that talked about the Olympics and its history. It seems that when individuals begin a research project they should have a central question in mind, one that interests them, and one that is appropriate for the scope of their project. Students received the following question as a touchstone against which they could measure the article abstract with the five points listed above: "How have the modern Olympics evolved since 1896?"
Students needed about three minutes, but not more than five to evaluate their article citation and abstract. One student acted as spokesperson for their group, so that individual talked about whether the article they received would be a good source to answer the question listed above. When students have an opportunity to discuss in a small group, they tend to be more willing to share with the larger group afterward.
During the discussion we talked about the currency of an item and determined that an older article could be valuable for those doing historical research, but researchers and teachers generally prefer newer articles for their currency on the topic. Fields in the health sciences demand newer resources as new knowledge continually grows. Furthermore, we talked about the relevancy of an article, so if an article claims to talk about the changes from amateur to professional participation in the Olympics and we want to learn about female athletes in the modern Olympics, then it would not be useful. We know not to spend time reading that article and go to find another that addresses our concern. Likewise, an article about antique Greek coins depicting athletes in the ancient Olympics would not be pertinent to our inquiry.
When it came to authority, one abstract described how the Olympics went at the first modern iteration in 1896. It also stated that the article was only two pages long and written for Sports Illustrated. The students believed that anyone writing for this magazine would know their stuff--that they would be experts in sports. It provided a good opportunity to talk about the audience of this serial publication; typically it consists of the general public. Truthfully, writers for Sports Illustrated do need to be authorities in some regard, which may mean that they have watched sporting events their entire lives, participated in the sports extensively, or attended many such events in person. These writers may only have a bachelor's degree and may not be scholarly by any means. The key points I tried to emphasize were that the article only took up two pages of space, which meets the needs of a general audience but hardly scratches the surface for those who want to really gain an understanding of the 1896 Olympics.
Additionally, the fact that the authors of this article published in Sports Illustrated means that a less rigorous editing process took place. Undoubtedly, the editors at the magazine demand quality and accuracy; however, imminent deadlines do not permit the kinds of painstaking efforts required for in-depth fact checking, such as those taken by authors publishing in a peer-reviewed journal or a scholarly monograph publication. Admittedly, I would probably use a Sports-Illustrated article if it related directly to my topic, but I would also be sure to include other more thoroughly researched sources that may be more authoritative and accurate.
Looking back on the experience, we may not have discussed the criterion "purpose" at any great length, but it is one that writers need to remember. If a writer and research can identify the reasons for which an author wrote a particular article or book, they can use that as leverage to bolster or discredit their argument. For example, an activist in a well-known environmental group like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth would be biased in opposition to group in the other direction.
Overall, the experience succeeded, and it got the students thinking critically about the resources--something we want to promote. In the future I might want to demonstrate the search that led me to the article titles and abstracts. It may be good to make students aware of my mental processes, so they can know how they might approach a similar search. Let them know which questions I am seeking to answer along the way. Ideally, I would like to illicit more responses from the students; I fear that I may have been too quick to talk after students gave their brief summaries of the abstracts. What kinds of questions would be best to ask after students have talked about their sources? Is it best to engage that particular group in the discussion or the class as a whole?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Upon entering the Rendezvous I worried that the student at their Information Desk might tell me I couldn't conduct my roving-reference experiment, or that he would
have to seek approval from a supervisor. Fortunately, he had no problem with it; maybe the fact that he hails from my hometown (actually he lived only five houses down the street from me) had something to do with it, but his co-workers had no problem with it the next day, either. So I was good to go.
Basically, I approached individuals with a basic introduction that went something like this: "Hi, I am a Roving Reference Librarian, and today I am answering questions. Are there any questions I can help you with?" Most people responded that they did not, so I would usually go into another line of questioning or public relations for the library. "Do you use the library?" "How do you use the library?" Depending on their responses I varied what I would say.
In a sense, it felt like I was pestering people, but most individuals had the decency to give me at least a minute’s worth of their attention. Yet, I feel strongly that the library can be a significant key to a student's success. I've heard the president of ISU say in a meeting I attended that those students who use the library and its resources are more likely to succeed and graduate. Therefore, whenever I encountered a senior nearing graduation (this week), and they said they had spent many hours studying in the library or had used many of the books/articles I would congratulate them and say that they are proof of this idea.
Here are a few of the questions people asked me:
• My professor ordered some articles for me via Inter-Library Loan. How can I request items through ILL for myself?
• How many books can I check out at a time?
• I need to find out if bacteria grows faster in cow or soy milk. Where can I look to find articles that may address this? This was a difficult one for me; I’m not very satisfied with how I approached this one.
• What is the circumference of the earth? Yes, this guy was being facetious and light hearted, but we had fun finding the answer in the Oxford Reference Online database, albeit in terms of kilometers and not in miles. By the way, the earth’s circumference is wider around the equator than around the poles, longitudinally that is.
• If I check out books now, how long can I have them? I told them that they would be due at the end of the semester, but they could renew them online to extend the loan period.
I think I answered nearly 10 questions in the approximately two and a half hours I was over there. Interestingly enough, I recognized a few student faces as they had been in a recent instruction session I had taught. Their class was meeting about the time I was over there.
For those students who did not have questions, I asked if they ever used the library and what they used it for. I put in a plug for continuing to use the library and to come ask us questions whenever they have them.
Additionally, I met a couple of instructors, and one of them belongs to the economics department. He talked to me briefly about an assignment that he gives his students, and I requested that he send me a copy of it. He has graciously done so, and he gave me permission to share it with my library colleagues. I forwarded it to my colleague who develops our economics's collection.
On my second day fewer persons asked me questions. It could very well be due to my pre-conceived idea that few would have them. When mentioning this to colleagues, they suggested that in such circumstances it might be better to ask open-ended questions like "How is your research going?" Definitely, this roving-reference activity would probably be better during the middle of the semester or at least a couple of weeks before the end of the semester--not the last week.
Anyway, I received lots of valuable feedback on the second day. When I found out one student was majoring in political science I asked her if she had found everything she had needed in the library for all of her projects. In a recent assignment she had not found much on the organizational styles of the US presidency. Apparently, her textbook lists six or seven different styles, and she remembered four or five: collegial, spokes of the wheel, competitive, hierarchical, etc. The following day I noticed that approximately $93 remained in the political-science budget, so I looked for similar types of books in our catalog. We have 29 items that qualify for the search: "presiden? styl?" One of the best subject heading turned out to be "Political Leadership--United States," for which there are 34 titles in our catalog. When conducting similar searches within the University of Iowa's catalog, I discovered a few good titles that seemed to match what this student was looking for, so I ordered a few other titles related to this topic.
Two students had similar ideas, expressing interest in receiving specific information from the library. One suggested that we send a mass email to students, so they can keep abreast of any changes to the library. Later a colleague told me that with an RSS feed, students can receive notice in their emails when the "Library News" gets updated. At the very bottom of the blog is a little link that allows you to receive these updates. The second student remarked that he would appreciate seeing the usage statistics that number how many books have been checked out and how many times people search and find articles in the electronic databases. Again, later I found out the on the "Library News" they post the library newsletters which do include this useful data.
Roving reference turned out to be rather productive and beneficial in my opinion. I hope we pick this up as a regular practice in the future.