This Week’s Eureka Moment: Focusing Phenomena

Those of you who know me well have probably heard me say that if I had lived during Puritan times, my name would have been Pragmatism. Useful objects, useful processes, and useful concepts make me inordinately happy. Pragmatism Sobel–that would have been me. 🙂 Of course I would not have fared well during the witch trials, but that…that is another story.

So, this week, I have been working on the presentation I’ll be giving at LILAC 2019 on using the actor-oriented transfer perspective (“AOT”) in information literacy instruction. I’ve been hyper-preparing to discuss major concepts within AOT at LILAC. As part of that, I spent time pulling together multiple examples of all the terminology, applied in information literacy. Would you like to know which AOT term sparked a “eureka moment”? Focusing phenomena.

The words “focusing phenomena” may not have lit up all of the synapses of professional excitement in your mind. But let me explain. When you’re working with AOT, “focusing phenomena” refers to all of the things that the instructor uses to help students know where to focus their attention in a particular situation. The word “things” is purposefully vague. The focusing phenomena used in a single classroom for a single purpose often refer to a collection of lesson plans, powerpoints, worksheets, posters(!), plans for activities, and more. The collection of focusing phenomena also includes completed student work. (For much more information, see Lobato, Ellis, & Munoz, 2003).

Although I’ve been working with this concept for several years now, here’s what excited me this week. One idea that I haven’t tried yet is discussing reinforcement for information literacy concepts in terms of focusing phenomena–particularly with the faculty for whom I teach. So–here are the focusing phenomena that I use to introduce and practice concepts of information literacy during my 75-minute session. What kinds of focusing phenomena can we use to help reinforce, and to help your students continue their connection with this concept throughout the semester? Pragmatic, yes?

My instruction sessions start on February 5th. Updates to come! And if you try this method, please give me a shout!

Reference

Lobato, J., Ellis, A. B., & Munoz, R. (2003). How “Focusing phenomena” in the instructional environment support individual students’ generalizations, mathematical thinking and learning, 5(1): 1-36. DOI: 10.1207/S15327833MTL0501_01

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