Magazine article Teacher Librarian

A Collaborative Event: An Elementary Unit on Severe Weather Preparedness

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

A Collaborative Event: An Elementary Unit on Severe Weather Preparedness

Article excerpt

DESCRIBED IN THIS ARTICLE IS A COLLABORATIVE PLANNING PROJECT DEVELOPED BY A NEW TEACHER-LIBRARIAN AND AN EXPERIENCED CLASSROOM TEACHER. BOTH THE TEACHER-LIBRARIAN AND THE CLASSROOM TEACHER IDENTIFIED MODIFICATIONS FOR FUTURE COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS. THESE MODIFICATIONS INCLUDE ESTABLISHING CLEARLY DEFINED ROLE EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEACHERS, ALTERING THE ACTIVITY SCHEDULE TO ALLOW STUDENTS TIME FOR INDEPENDENT WORK ON PROOFREADING AND EDITING, AND PROVIDING THE STUDENTS WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE RATIONALE BEHIND CITATION OF SOURCES. THE SUCCESS OF THIS UNIT PROVIDES ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE NEED FOR FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARY AND THE VALUE OF COLLABORATION BETWEEN TEACHER-LIBRARIANS AND CLASSROOM TEACHERS.

During the spring, following the tsunami tragedy of December 2004, 18 third graders were presented with the following two stories.

   In Hawaii, there was a teacher who
   noticed that the water in the ocean
   seemed to be going far away from the
   beach. She and her students went to
   the water's edge to examine the
   aquatic life that had been revealed.
   Tragically, the teacher and her entire
   class were killed when the associated
   tsunami returned to the shore before
   they could escape. (See related information
   at http://nees.oregonstate
   .edu/IT/info/Laupahoehoe.htm,
   http://starbulletin.com/96104/01/
   news/story3.html, or www.ghosttowns
   .com/states/hi/laupahoehoe.html.)
   In Phuket, Thailand, a British school
   girl noticed that the water in the
   ocean, near where her family was
   vacationing, was receding from the
   beach very quickly. She had recently
   studied tsunamis in school and knew
   to warn her family to run to higher
   ground for safety. Her quick actions
   saved their lives as well as the lives of
   100 other tourists. (See the complete
   story on the National Geographic
   News web site at http://news
   .nationalgeographic.com/news/
   2005/01/0118_050118_tsunami_
   geography_lesson .html.)

The teacher-librarian who told these stories was faced with determining how to convince a group of 18 third grader--sat the end of a long year-to be interested in doing research on severe weather preparedness. She grabbed their attention with the following statement: "Someday, I will be an old woman and will not know how to be safe in severe weather. I am counting on you to help me if I need it." The teacher-librarian and the students' classroom teacher then embarked on a collaborative research unit on the topic of severe weather preparedness. This topic is a part of the third-grade course of study and one that many students found to be exciting. This article provides teacher-librarians who are new to collaboration with the experiences of a novice collaborator for the purpose of providing motivation, guidance, and reassurance to those who seek to collaborate with classroom teachers.

THE COLLABORATIVE TEAM

THE TEACHER-LIBRARIAN AND THE CLASSROOM TEACHER

Although the teacher-librarian was new to the school library profession, she had more than 10 years experience teaching elementary students. During the course of this project, she was completing the final requirements for her school library certification. Aside from small-scale collaborations at the single-lesson level, the severe weather unit was the first large-scale collaborative project that she had completed with a member of her school's faculty. The classroom teacher was teaching third grade at the time that the unit was implemented, and she had been selected as teacher of the year by her faculty the year before this collaboration. Both the classroom teacher and the teacher-librarian were relatively new to formal collaborative processes for curriculum development, but they entered into this collaborative activity with positive attitudes and were willing to try something new for the purpose of giving students a positive learning experience. …

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