The University Libraries are well known for their efforts to promote UNLV student and faculty success. A lesser known activity is the work the Libraries do to help educate the educators of the Clark County School District (CCSD) so their students can be better prepared. The Teacher-Librarian Institute for Integration of Research Into the K-12 Curriculum, or the “K-12 Institute” for short, helps CCSD teachers and librarians integrate research into curricula to better prepare students for their future academic and professional lives.
Funded by the Libraries’ Advisory Board, the K-12 Institute is now in its third year. “UNLV’s librarians are well positioned to serve in this way and address these needs because we see all disciplines, can talk about best practices across disciplines, and are focused on teaching and learning,” said Melissa Bowles-Terry, head of Educational Initiatives at UNLV Libraries as well as the K-12 Institute planning leader.
K-12 teachers (typically department heads) and librarians throughout Clark County schools paired up, developed ideas for research-based assignments they hoped to implement at their respective schools, and submitted these ideas to the K-12 Institute. From the applications received, UNLV Libraries selected 18 participants (forming nine teacher-librarian teams) to join four UNLV library faculty for three days of collaboration on curriculum maps, learning outcomes, and many other teaching activities designed to bring their projects to life within the Common Core State Standards framework recently adopted by the CCSD.
“(Our research project) will be very beneficial when put into action and should encourage more collaboration at the school,” one participant said. “What we do will benefit students’ college experience as well!” said another.
Perhaps equally important to supporting K-12 student learning and information literacy in this innovative way was providing a space and time in which teachers and librarians could collaborate. “What I noticed the most is that the CCSD teachers and librarians were just so appreciative of having the chance to work together and having a peaceful moment to develop assignments together,” said Amanda Melilli, head of the UNLV Curriculum Materials Library and one of the four UNLV library faculty leading the K-12 Institute. Bowles-Terry agreed: “The participants got so much out of working intimately as teams, and this is what UNLV Libraries is all about—collaboration,” she said.
Speaking of collaboration, the relationship between the CCSD and UNLV was further fortified by the K-12 Institute; this is extremely critical to both students’ and educators’ success. Student work created from projects developed during the K-12 Institute will be followed by UNLV Libraries and showcased with the CCSD Library Association for all to learn from and enjoy. “I for one think we need more chances for CCSD and UNLV staff to work together,” Melilli said. “We got a ton out of the K-12 Institute by opening these doors.”
For more information on the K-12 Institute and how you can support it, visit https://www.library.unlv.edu/faculty/institute/2012/k-12.html.