Monday, 25 April 2011

The Teacher-Librarian and the Curriculum

I enjoyed Judy O’Connell’s podcast and her declaration that teacher-librarians are “Lifesavers of Learning”. Judy spoke of the passion and purpose that underpins all that we do for students and teachers. Judy referred to the breadth of the exposure we give students in their information lessons by teaching them how to read words, images, sounds, video games and more.
Judy described the constructivist theory as one that is not passive, but active. Inquiry learning is the heart of our work, and a teaching method that I am familiar with. It is supported by ICT, which adds depth to the thinking process. She believes that Google and its relations as giving students a false “sense of security”. Teacher-librarians are the key stakeholders in this digital revolution, and as such, we need to “create a robust 21st century learning environment”.
Judy referred to the article by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss (2007), which is included in the essential readings for this week’s topic. The authors portray inquiry learning as a process of collaboration, communication and critical thinking. The skills that students use in their problem-solving collaborations prepare them for the activities that they will perform in future careers.
The definition of inquiry-based learning offered at the EduTech Wiki (2010) advocates that the constructivist theory of learning is a fulfilling and satisfying process for students to undertake in the process of independently solving a research task. The Cyclic Inquiry model offers the following five steps: Ask, Investigate, Create, Discuss and Reflect. The article can be found at:
Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss (2007) use the example of a teacher, Adam Kinory who is a convert to project-based learning. He speaks of the evils of teachers being the “content expert” (p 4), compared to the rejuvenation that teachers experience when they provide students with the opportunity to use digital tools and engage in problem-solving and use higher-order thinking skills. According to Scott Durham, “In project-based learning, students investigate open-ended questions and apply their knowledge to produce authentic products” (p 12). Boss and Krauss list the four hallmarks of this reinvigorated approach to projects.
For educators who are reluctant to adopt a different teaching style, Boss and Krauss remind their readers that as lifelong learners, we should be prepared to try the shift to a learning style that will enable students to find their own answers, when needed. Students use creativity, information fluency, critical thinking and digital citizenship, along with five extra learnings that describe the additional benefits to students.
The authors claim that with practice, students improve in their ability to work as a team. Their capacity to manage deadlines, resolve conflicts and investigate their own questions also improves. Teachers benefit by adapting to working with students as they work through their projects. The article can be found at:
Using Wikipedia, I found a clear and concise definition of inquiry learning and project-based learning. Ebsco and Informit searches of inquiry learning and project-based learning gave me good results. Google scholar gave me massive results. I’ll stick with Ebsco and Informit, using their helpful search tools.

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