Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Why do I bother?

Posted by lpearle on 3 December 2008

At MPOW, I have a fixed schedule of teaching the 6th and 8th grade (well, half of each grade per semester). Right now, both grades are working on history projects. In an attempt to prepare them for these projects, I reiterated how to evaluate sources, the research process, etc.. I also (quickly) reviewed the Dewey Decimal system.

Now, I don’t go into great detail with DDC. My goal is to teach them to understand the hundreds, so they can eliminate search results in the catalog. For example, if they’re doing something on the history of slavery, they can ignore the 700s (art/recreation). There’s no reason for them to memorize more than that. I even pointed out “helpful hundreds” for each project.

So today, imagine how successful I felt when two students were searching high and low for a book The Merchant of Venice to assist them in learning about Venice’s role in the silk and spice trade routes (to their credit, they had confused it with Venice and its Merchant Empire). I gently reminded them that 800s (literature/rhetoric) were probably less helpful than 900s (history/geography). And then there was the child that was complaining that London, Jack’s book South Seas Tales didn’t have an index… which it doesn’t, nor is it helpful when you’re researching London, City.

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