Who’s Creative?

Tami Sickels
IL-Creative Thinking

Scherer, M.  (2013).   Who’s Creative?  Educational Leadership, 70(5),  7-7

This article is an article on students’ creativity.  The author refers to several cases where creative teaching and learning has positive and measurable results.  Unfortunately, this article also states that there is a “creativity crisis” in our nation.  The cause of this is unknown but is being blamed on rigorous school schedules and hours of media where there is no activity.  In a lot of countries around the world, creativity is a priority, yet in our country we have seen a downward spiral.
I loved this article.  It was so inspiring to read about teachers who are making a difference and closing the gap in low and high level learning and teaching.     

Project Based Learning

Tami Sickels


 Markham, T.  (2011).  Project Based Learning.  Teacher Librarian,  39(2),  38-42

This article is a great overview on project based learning.  It shows the difference between “doing a project” and project based learning or PBL.  This article states that knowing and doing have always been two separate things in teaching but PBL blends the two.  In PBL,  collaborative learning takes place just as in the real world.  These real world skills are assessed as the teacher(s) observe and measure the progress.  Markham also gives a good description of the seven principles used in PBL and how the whole process works.  Even though this method encourages students to learn to function in the real world, most schools do not use project based learning.  We, as teacher librarians, should promote the use of PBL in our schools. This article also offers the notion that we are moving forward with the idea of the group mind.  Markham offers the suggestion that to see this first hand you should visit the “mulit-level, multiplayer gamin sites on the web.  We are being challenged to move to a collaborative form of learning that will involve everyone, parents, students, and teachers.  This article is a very informative article on Project Based Learning and gives a couple of resources on critical thinking. I wish there would have been a little more information on resources where we could read more about PBL. 

Online Virtual Environment Game Used to Teach Information Literacy & Technology Instruction

Kowalsky, M. (2009). A quest for information literacy skills. School Librarian’s Workshop, 30(1), 16-17.
This article relays the details of a program created by researchers at Indiana University for youth, ages nine to fifteen.  The program, an online virtual environment called Atlantis Quest, invites students to conduct a variety of educational and research-related tasks in order to provide useful information and assistance to the fictional residents of Atlantis.  There are 500 quests from which youth can choose, all of which are based on skills driven by the curriculum and real-life situations.  Their purpose is to promote research, information literacy, writing skills and mathematics.  Additionally, the games emphasize safe online navigation, compassion, cultural sensitivity, cooperation and more.  Participation in the games requires critical thinking skills and thoughtful responses, rather than simple one-word answers or quiz formats.  Students use online role-playing to interact with both the game’s fictional characters as well as other participants, such as teachers.  Teachers participate by assisting students with the quests and assigning quests that are suited to the current curriculum.  Online assistance is also available to students in the form of the Council and the Elders, two participant groups in the game that are comprised of teachers and volunteers, respectively, and which are meant to provide feedback on the students’ performance.  The article relays that this form of information literacy instruction is becoming increasingly popular.  Currently, over 10,000 people internationally have begun using the program and the Atlantis Quest researchers and developers have been awarded a 1.8 million dollar grant to expand the project.
This program’s creative approach toward information literacy instruction is worth the read, though I was disappointed that the author didn’t share any actual findings about Atlantis Quest’s actual efficacy.

Implications of Information Technology Literacy in the Classroom


Ezziane, Z. (2007).  Information technology literacy: Implications on teaching and learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10(3), 175-191.

This article explores the effect of information technology in the classroom on students’ learning styles and teachers’ instructional approaches.  It explains that effective information literacy and technology skills are especially critical as the role of technology in the workforce becomes increasingly predominant.  As such, students must be equipped with sufficient technological skills during their education.  The author posits that meaningful interaction with information technology promotes students’ use of unique problem-solving methods, collaboration, directed learning, and increased researching capability.  The author argues that the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is positively impacting education, and posits that its benefits include a richer student learning experience, a broader range of teachers’ capabilities, and a more varied and diverse learning institution.  Theoretical frameworks for information technology literacy are also considered, including organizational knowledge creation theory, relational information literacy theory and practice, and systems thinking methodology. The author concludes by acknowledging that although administrative issues and costliness may present barriers to technology integration in the classroom, teachers, curriculum developers and administrators to work together to improve their technological and virtual reality skills in the face of the computer’s increasing role in classroom learning. 
Overall, the article offers broad support of ICT but does not offer any detailed evidence or compelling theories to demonstrates its efficacy and value.

An opportunity to talk about testing

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan

CA-Who Decides

C Coggins.  (2013, February 13).  An opportunity to talk about testing. [Web log comment].  Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/02/13/21coggins.h32.html?tkn=ZMCCi%2Fv3ggFaLRGi%2BdkGNUbHBUKADFun%2BrvL&cmp=clp-sb-ascd

Teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School have boycotted against the Measures of Academic Progress assessment, which has helped spur the debate on whether or not assessments are right, wrong, or somewhere in between.  Teachers unions, like the Chicago Teachers Union and United Teachers Los Angeles, have taken stands of solidarity against using assessments.  The writer says that assessments in schools are here to stay, but what is needed is teacher input into how to make better assessments.

As a former teacher, I did not see the value of California’s state standardized tests.  Students would be assessed in the spring, when maybe 80% of that grade’s curricula was taught, and then I would not even get the results of how that cohort did until the fall.  Two things wrong with this (though there are more),  are that students were assessed when the whole year wasn’t even finished, so that pushed me to try to teach everything by the time the state tests were to be administered.  This led to a very frantic pace for my former school district, so much so that we teachers were put on curricula pacing calendars.  There was little room for deviation from the pacing calendar, and little room for constructivist teaching and learning.  To be efficient with time, we had to use the textbook and follow the pacing calendar.

Another thing wrong with the state standardized test was that the results for that spring’s assessment was only available in the fall, far after the cohort had left my classroom.  Every class is different, and every child is different.  And every child can be different every day, and every child is not a test-taker.

If I were still in the classroom, and I had to think of a way to assess students’ learning, I would not do multiple choice, standardized testing.  Instead I would (if I could) use a portfolio-style of assessment wherein students’ learning is documented and I could see a reflection of their individual personality and intellectual growth in their work.  This type of assessment is maybe more time-consuming than using a multiple-choice testing sheet and feeding it through a scanner, but I think that it is more humane and human.  Learning and assessment should not be input-output, but rather a portrait of thoughts that are captured and nuanced.

Outstanding Books for the College Bound

Outstanding Books in School Libraries Curriculum Connections and Reader’s Advisory

Wiest, Stefani

CA-Common Core Assessments, CO-Reading Workshops

Dando, P. (2011). Outstanding books in school libraries curriculum connections and readers’ advisory. Young Adult Library Services, 10(1), 31-35.

Summary: This article presents information about the comprehensive list Outstanding Books for the College Bound (OBCB) and Lifelong Learners, published by the American Library Association. The article provides suggestions for librarians to achieve both the literary and instructional roles of the school library, particularly at the high school level. The OBCB list can be utilized for reader’s advisory, to develop summer reading programs, curriculum connections, and supplementary reading. It also reflects multiculture and multigenre suggestions to reach a wide and diverse audience. 

Evaluation:Learning about OBCB through this article has given me an additional resource to refer to when helping high school students find relevant material. Although this article focuses on school libraries at the high school level, the OBCB could also benefit the public librarian when working with teens. The article presents fresh ideas of practical applications including reading recommendations through reader’s advisory, summer reading lists, instructional supplements to assigned classroom reading, student-led book groups for students to study and discuss, and team teaching between teachers and school librarians. Undoubtedly, the more abundant the resources that are available to the high school student, the more opportunities for learning are presented.

How should teaching change in the age of Siri?

Ratzel, M. (2013). How should teaching change in the age of Siri? KQED Inc. Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/11/how-should-teaching-change-in-the-age-of-siri/

Students no longer have to ask a teacher if they can use a calendar. Thanks to voice intelligence systems, such as the iPhone’s Siri software, students can now use their smartphones to solve equations or ask basic history, science, or geography questions. Siri uses the Wolfram Alpha intelligent data site to answer queries. 

This author says it won’t be long until students realize Siri is their greatest study buddy. In light of these new programs, how should teaching change? While the natural solution is to simply ban smartphones in the classroom, the author suggests that there should be a focus from simply finding the answer to a greater focus on analysis. The author also argues that teachers should actually use programs like Siri to their advantage and push students’ thinking. 

The combination of digital tools and Common Core expectations leaves little room for multiple-choice and true-false questions. Educators have to design questions that force students into drawing conclusions. The author gives this example: Rather than asking  them to solve an equation such as 5(5x+7), they can frame an equation as “Is 5(5x+7=25x+7 always, sometimes or never true?”

Analysis: I wish the author had provided ways in which students could use mobile technology/research, such as Siri or a mobile encyclopedia app for example, as a way to supplement an assignment. If the students are going to use them anyways, should the teacher acknowledge that in creating a lesson plan? She does bring up the fact that students can send screenshots from their graphic calculators to show their progression in solving a problem. I wonder if it is possible to use Siri in a way that shows progression through research or problem solving. 

Posted by Julia Mies 

Linda Parker


I Jukes. (2013, February 19). Glad you asked about the digital generation. [Web log comment]. 

       Retrieved from:  http://fluency21.com/blog/2013/02/19/ask-ian/

I enjoyed reading this article and was reminded that kids today are growing up and learning in a different age than when I was a child.  Granted, different learning styles have been discussed for generations, yet, technology has certainly brought an aspect to learning that has not had to be considered before.  I found it very interesting to learn about the physiology behind the way our brains are wired including how technology affects that wiring.  I was encouraged and spurred on to look for creative ways to engage students coming through the library where I work, especially in the use of technology to keep them interested, learning, and maybe even a little entertained.  In my view, learning comes more easily when you’re having fun doing it!

Librarians and FLIP Teaching

Valenza, J. K. (2012). The flipping librarian. Teacher Librarian, 40(2), 22-25.
Valenza begins the article by discussing the increasing use of flip teaching that is occurring in education. She does note that although it is too early to gather accurate research on the success or failure of this teaching style a study done by TechLearning has found it to be favorably received by teachers and has proven to be a great asset in helping students raise their test scores. The remainder of the article focuses on the ways that either school or public librarians can become involved in flip teaching. Valenza identifies that just as librarians collaborate with teachers to enhance traditional lesson plans so can they work with teachers to either initiate flip teaching in their classrooms or to enhance programs they may already be using. Another thing Valenza identifies is the opportunity for school librarians to bring flip teaching into schools that do not have it yet by starting it in the library.
I found the article to be a very informational read, it had enough material about flip teaching to help me understand it without being solely about explaining the concept. The connection Valenza makes between what librarians have traditionally done and how this is just an extension was very well done. She made the point that as the ‘tech experts’ in the schools this role should naturally fall to school librarians. One of the greatest aspects of this article is the multitude of resources that are supplied through the article. For readers interested in learning more about flip teaching and its history, there is a link supplied to the founders website. The last page of the article is a collection of platforms that can be used to create flipped classrooms. Each platform that is listed has a brief description and the author even made the effort to supply a number of free ones. Another great aspect is the links to examples of flipped classrooms and projects that arose from flipped classrooms. Even though the idea of librarians as leaders in flipped teaching may seem kind of obvious, this article more than makes up for that with the plethora of resources it contains.
Posted by Jessica King