First Year Seminar update


Here’s what my current process for planning my FYS class looks like. Merging two ideas in the comments from Kristin and Ilana, I have created a giant post-it note calendar of the semester. In the process, I learned that our weeks during the semester actually run Wednesday-Wednesday with the last Wednesday being a Monday. My head hurt a bit thinking this through and I scrapped my first plan to number the weeks. Who needs it when we already have a lovely, lovely calendar where Wednesday is always in the middle of the week and never rearranged?

Obviously, this wall-based approach wouldn’t work for planning multiple classes, but it’s working for me now. I have a rough sketch of crucial assignments, outings, and special lectures in place. Now it’s a matter of filling in the blanks with the slightly more mundane, day-to-day class stuff – readings and discussions, building and scaffolding.

I found that library instruction was one of the last pieces to fall into place for me. This class needs intentional structuring for library instruction to be really useful. If I had trouble envisioning where library instruction fits, I’m sure others do too. I’m wondering how I might help FYS instructors create meaningful assignments that address the required library instruction component. We typically do a lecture about evaluating information for FYS, although we change it up on request. Some instructors choose to include a debate for their final project, which is a natural fit for discussions about quality of information. Others do a “Global Journeys” project to help connect students to the world at large. Still others choose to go a completely different path. I will be contacting other FYS professors to see how we might work together to make the library instruction really useful.

The texts I’ve chosen are A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, a classic for FYS here in the ADKs and an excellent text for helping students connect to a very forested place, and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield, which, besides being just fascinating, will provide some concrete examples of life skills in action. I’m also planning to use some exercises from Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo to help open the class and bring everything together at the end.

In the mean time, I’m also considering tweaks to our current FYS library instruction. What do you do for instruction in first year classes?

2 thoughts on “First Year Seminar update

  1. varellano says:

    So you’re teaching a semester long FYS? That’s awesome! What is the topic?

    I think you bring up a really excellent point: If you are having difficulty incorporating IL into the course, imagine how hard it can be for non-librarian faculty! I had a great planning session with an FYS instructor two weeks ago where we really tried to plan out a semester where library instruction was frequent, but in small, targeted doses. Each of my visits is going to correspond with a particular reading or assignment or class topic so that we avoid the dreaded “library assignments” which always seem artificial and the students always see through. The class is on the psychology of media so it lends itself really well to topics on information consumption and the instructor really wants to carry the theme of “author, audience and intent” throughout all of the course material and assignments. To me that works PERFECTLY with information literacy instruction as seen through the lens of genre theory.

    Good luck! I’m anxious to read more about your FYS as you continue to plan it.

    • Meggan says:

      I’m excited! I wrote a bit about the title and description here: I think one of the keys is in framing projects appropriately. All that’s really needed for our typical FYS instruction to work is for the students to have an assignment that requires them to find supporting information. It doesn’t have to be complicated or in depth, but if you aren’t thinking about that requirement, the library instruction can fall very flat. Also, I think there’s a general push from administration to get library instruction done as soon as possible in the semester when we know that it’s more important that the instruction be timely. Generally, I think we all (FYS instructors and librarians) could benefit from a quick check in.

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