I looked at this and I was thinking book talk. What a quaint term. I’m wondering if we should change it to “resource talk”? Or “idea talk”? Because when I think in terms of the conversations I’m having with my kids (at home) and teachers and students (at school) and friends it’s really more about concepts and ideas and resources. At school one of my colleagues is making these giant posters for different age groups and reading levels and “if you liked this …. then …” I guess the humanities teachers are probably doing some book talking.
But I want to talk about resource talking. And idea talking. I’m beginning to think of the research process – and in essence all reading is research. Even if you’re reading a novel you’re learning something and it’s doing something wonderful to your brain. For me the research process comprises three distinct types of activities, each with their own resource needs:
1. The hygiene factors
(Remember Herzberg from psycho 101?). I’d say that these are the things that need to be present before any real thought or creativity or research can be done. These are also the tedious boring bits that “have” to be done and done properly otherwise everything else falls apart. These are the things that we need to automate and make as easy and “no brainer” as possible with easy to use tools and resources. I’m talking about:
* collecting resources so that they can easily be found back
* formatting according to requirements
* Checking spelling and grammar
* curating and sharing resources easily
* finding resources easily
So to sort this out for our budding researchers, we need to do a “tool talk“. And we’re living in a WONDERFUL time for all of this. Between Easybib, Zotero, Diigo, and Evernote etal (I’m just mentioning the one’s I use not the ones in existence) this type of thing is almost the equivalent of having a full time housekeeper, cleaning up after you as you go along.
The catch? You have to set these things up in advance, be familiar with how they work and be annal and consistent in their use.
2. The process
Our grade 11’s have just been through a “process talk” with our librarian before the break. Actually research is probably a couple of sub-processes that come together. Getting a “big idea”, whittling that down to a “research question”, getting resources and writing it all up. This is where a bit of meta-cognition comes into the play. One the one hand a process is just that – a process or a series of steps for getting from point A to B. On the other, awareness of the process in the sense of the cognitive and psychological process gives a student a greater sense of control over their emotions while going through the process.
Ms. Katie did this really well, talking about information gathering to the point that it all felt overwhelming and out of control and then knowing this was the point where you had to stop and narrow, narrow, narrow – see the slide below from her talk:
3. The “so what”?
I don’t think we ever really get to this point. At least not as a talk. But some of our students do, and do so admirably. They do their research on eco-toursim and become an activist. They take things beyond the realm of ideas and concepts and apply them to their lives and the lives of others. Joyce Valenza speaks wonderfully about this in her “see Sally research” talk.
I think as librarians we can be happy if our students are able to sort out the hygiene factors and apply them consistently, go through the research process and deliver an acceptable end result. And it’s a feather in the cap of the school, teachers and librarians if they go beyond the ivory tower and create meaning in their lives and those of others. And sometimes that meaning may “just” be finding their passion and knowing what they want to be or do when they leave school.