Category Archives: Research

Third Grade Media Specialists

A Media Specialist Hard at Work

The classroom jobs in third grade change each week, allowing each child a chance to experience a variety of responsibilities. The Media Specialist is, however, a coveted and beloved job.

What is a Media Specialist? (as defined by Public Broadcasting Service, PBS)

In schools, the term covers a broad spectrum of educational roles. Can mean the person who operates audio-visual equipment, the librarian, a teacher with broad knowledge of media resources and the communication process, or one who helps other teachers locate an array of resources.

What is media? (as defined by

In our classroom the Media Specialist focuses on three different means of communication:

  • music
  • photographs
  • web resources

Lately we have spent quite a lot of time on the computer, and I’ve discovered that the Media Specialist is also a web-navigator. I can see how over time this job is growing and shifting to look more like the PBS definition.

In the beginning I modeled most of the computer skills: opening programs, entering keywords into a Google search, manipulating mind maps, etc… The kids are, however, picking up on these skills and it is mind boggling how quickly they become masters. I am excited to expand this job description in the classroom, broadening the kids’ knowledge of media resources and empowering them to “locate an array of resources.”


Just one of the smiley faces caught on camera by a Media Specialist

Although having control over the mouse is a fabulous responsibility, do you know what is ever better? Having control over the camera!!! There are few things more fun to this lot than capturing and sharing photos of each other. For me, this quickly feels like silly-mania. Each flash sets off another round of giggles. But, this Friday the Magical Minds taught me the value of all those silly-sounding moments. When asked to create a set of quality instructions to explain their light and sound experiments, almost every kid needed to use the camera to complete their project. Not once did I have to stop and explain how to use the camera. Every picture you will see in their projects (post pending) was taken by a third grader, and they are all in focus.





Child-Centered Inquiry with Guidance

I believe one of the best things I can do for the Magical Minds is teach them how to find their own answers.  The first half of the year is all about modeling, building trust, exposing them to resources and introducing them to tools.  These days, I am looking for opportunities for them to take control over their own learning.

Thus, when we began our investigation into light, I asked them what they wanted to know more about.  Using our Scientific Method Guide, the Magical Minds chose their own plan to find their answers.  A few chose to make an experiment.  Two girls chose to watch a movie and the other two sought their answers on the internet.


Researching Light Through Film

These methods of investigation had been modeled in class before, except for Twurdy, a search engine that sorts and codes search results according to readability. Thus, I wanted to take a moment to educate everyone about how to use this helpful tool.  I called everyone over.

As I tried to explain what I call “the anatomy of a search result,” the kids were squirming and eager to go back to their projects.  Great that they were excited to go back to their learning, but frustrating when I had something they would all benefit from.  Thus, the Pause for Learning was born.

I expressed my frustration with the Magical Minds, and they agreed – there should be a way that I (we?) could share cool, helpful, exciting learning moments and everyone could benefit.  Together we decided that when the triangle is rung, they will give their eyes, hands, voices and minds to the “Pause for Learning.” We practiced a few times, and then we returned to Twurdy.   I walked them through the important elements of their search results.  Together we know more.

Twurdy Explained

Information Literacy


I highly recommend watching this video:


One way I help the Magical Minds avoid “infowhelm” is to use Twurdy when searching the web.  Twurdy rates search results according to readability.


Twurdy's Rated Search Results