Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Break the Ice, Build Momentum - LOEX2010

One of my favorite sessions, Break the Ice, Build the Momentum: Successful Strategies for beginning a library Instruction Session, presented by Carrie Donovan and Rachel Slough of Indiana University, was high energy, interactive, caused us (the attendees) to think and to think playfully!

While the presenters did provide a long bibliography of professional reading on the topic, they spent the majority of their time getting us to think creatively about the value of a warm-up activity and how to go about creating our own. They asked, for instance, "can you create a warm-up activity out of a teachable moment?"

Carrie and Rachel had us interacting in groups on several occasions, but the time I enjoyed most was where we had to design a warm-up activity based on a student "persona" and a particular class assignment. After some brainstorming our group happened upon a brilliant idea for our class with Karlie, a first-year student who has had a basic introduction to the library during freshman orientation, but beyond that, has little knowledge of the libraries' resources or services. Her research experience includes term papers for her high school classes and searching online to satisfy her own personal (e.g. non-academic) information needs. Karlie's introductory writing/composition course is expected to turn in a final paper that is a comparative analysis of two films of her choosing. So, for the warm-up we decided that each student would try to come up with a famous quote from a film and then the could read, or act it out for the class (or the instructor could too!) and everyone has to try to guess what film it's from, or who the actor is, and does anyone know who directed that movie. You could then relate how all those layers of information relate to the world of academic research.

Maybe not a perfect warm-up, but the idea is to quickly grab the students attention, get them thinking about something that they connect with, then stealthily add in (add value) to what they already know about finding information. All the ideas generated at the conference session will eventually be posted to a LOEX librarywarmups wiki.


  1. A good remember about the value of warm-ups! I'll have to think about how I can use them more in my classes. Currently, I use the row by row library website warm-up in most classes. It introduces students to resources, but doesn't necessarily grab their attention or get them to think about something they already connect with - great pointers for designing warm-up activities. Hmm, maybe we can do some group brainstorming about this at IST meeting next fall?

  2. This sounds like it was a very useful LOEX session. I'd also like to try different warm-up activities -- rather than the row by row that Suzanne B. mentioned. I'm making a note to put this topic on a fall IST meeting agenda. Thanks much for posting Karl and Suzanne for responding! Kim

  3. Oh yes, let's talk about this. I've got READ 114 coming in two days... and as the instructor said, they haven't been in a library in at least 10 years, if at all. What will grab and hold their attention?