Green, J., & Olmstead, L. (2011). Deep learning experiences within a fixed schedule. School Library Monthly, 27(6), 5-7.
From Kareen Burns, April 2011
Bell delves into project based-learning or constructivist teaching in this excellent article. She not only explains the methodology, but provides proof of the impact of this approach on student learning in the form of test scores and more importantly, learning with real world applications. Bell provides examples of PBL going on in schools today to give readers a visual of this increasingly popular teaching style. She sums up the article with information about how PBL is an ideal teaching approach for 21st century learning. Bell points out that many important skills for the 21st century cannot be measured through standardized testing, but that PBL includes real assessments. Students learn the process of learning, self-evaluation and reflection. These are all tools that students can take away from PBL and use in the real world.
From Katherine Halpern, May 2011
Elementary school librarians in the Birmingham Public School district developed a curriculum for their second graders based on inquiry-based learning with a research focus This was an opportunity to focus on 21st-Century learning skills. To improve students’ inquiry skills (reading nonfiction, notetaking, developing questions, and synthesizing knowledge), the librarians used models by Debbie Miller and Kathy Collins. Librarians established routines for the students’ library time and created “literacy centers” designed to encourage children to read and write about the books they checked out. At the end of each library period, students sat in a circle and discussed the reasons they had selected a specific book. Through communicating their though process to the class, students learned how to self-select appropriate reading material.
Librarians also created a “nonfiction museum” with a variety of non-fiction texts (newspapers, recipes, food labels) and talked about the differences between reading fiction (from start to finish) and non-fiction (reading only the portion of interest).
Librarians modeled skills such as using table of contents and indices and had students work in pairs to practice these modeled skills. Students formed “questions for curiosity’s sake” (p. 7) and then used the non-fiction texts for find the answers, learning “to read nonfiction for authentic purposes” (p. 7).
Focusing on “non-fiction literacy” at the start of the school year lets students participate more actively in other inquiry-based learning projects throughout the year.