I introduced three students (Years 6-7) to Any Questions this afternoon. It was a spur of the moment thing - I needed a way to help them search for their information independently, and decided Any Questions would fit the bill, and this would also be a great chance to introduce a resource they could use again and again in the future, on their own.
The students are members of our FLL Robotics team, and needed to find out information for their inquiry project relating to food safety. They had no idea this wonderful online resource existed and were amazed and excited to find themselves each chatting to a real librarian online. They each had separate questions, so used a laptop each and logged in to AnyQuestions themselves.
I kept an eye on what was happening and was interested to see how the students responded. The first thing that struck me was how they realised they couldn't type as fast as they wanted to when chatting to their librarian. Also, suddenly spelling naturally became an issue for them - they wanted it right and they were panicking a little (asking me how to spell this or that). Also, I found myself NOT worrying so much about the spelling etc, and just telling them to write what they could and the person at the other end would say if they didn't understand. Of course, the correct spelling was important at the stage of putting key words into search boxes. I showed them how to copy and paste any ideas from the librarian, into a Google search box (to save themselves doing extra typing) - keyboard commands made the process quicker. Not all the students knew how to work with tabs in their browser, so that was another lesson for the day. And bookmarking was refreshed, too. I also kept an eye on the etiquette - greetings and sign-offs, and responding to questions asked of them by the librarian. But, this was just the nuts and bolts stuff.
Of course, being able to read was essential - not only what the librarian was saying to them, but skimming the results that came up on a Google page once their mentored/guided search was underway, and later reading the websites themselves. The big thinking came with forming their question and thinking about possible key words - not easy for all of them.
Once some suitable sites were found, and thanks to the help of their respective librarian guides they were found, the students then needed to read these and glean some information. They'd done enough for the afternoon, and this stage was to be done for homework. The websites and transcripts were emailed home to be referred to later.
At the end, the students all had some good resources to help them. When parents arrived at school to pick up their children (this was an after school session), they were greeted by three VERY excited students who couldn't wait to show them what they'd been doing!
I thought the whole experience was great, and left with a real buzz myself. And I was delighted that there had been three librarians available to give that one-to-one help to my students. Thank you Any Questions!