Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan
Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud
TED Conferences, LLC.  [TED2013]. (2013, February). Sugata Mitra: Build a school in the cloud [Video file].  Retrieved from
Sugata Mitra is an educational researcher who spoke at a TED conference about how his goal is to build a school in the cloud.  His notion is that the educational system that was invented during the Victorian times worked for that era, but now, education needs to be reworked.  His thoughts are that children can teach themselves and their peers anything, as long as they’re interested and have the hardware and software to do so.  His research with children in poor neighborhoods in India showed that children who had access to an Internet-connected computer learned very complex ideas, not even in their native language but in English.  This so-called “Hole in the Wall” computer gave these children the ability to learn abstract science concepts.  Because they had the curiosity, the tools, and one another, the Hole in the Wall project resulted in learning on individual and collaborative scales.
This was an eye-opening TED talk on the great effects that technology can have on learning.  I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Mitra on how the current educational system in the United States is old-fashioned and needs a revolutionary change.  It would be great if all schools could differentiate learning for all their students through the use of cloud-based technologies and schools so that every child really wouldn’t be left behind.  If people would be willing to vote for and fund this type of education then I think a school in the cloud could really happen.

Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan
Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking
I Jukes. (2013, February 26).  Ten takeaway tips for teaching critical thinking.  [Web log comment].  Retrieved from
This is a list from Mariko Nobori from Edutopia that gives teachers ten ways to teach or remember to teach critical thinking skills.  The approaches that are described are very student-centered and student-driven.  Use of the Socratic method is important.  So is the scaffolding of desired outcomes, such as using manners when learning to counter-argue a point, using academic language with sentence stems/starters, and using methods such as a fishbowl to learn how to critique one another.
I enjoyed reading this short blog because, as a teacher and (hopefully, one day a teacher-librarian) I aim to get to the heart of what my students want to learn, to help them push themselves to think more critically, and to find the answers that they seek.

School Librarian’s Role in Reading Workshops

Kramer, K. (2012). Reading workshop: The school librarian’s role. School Library Monthly, 28(5), 38-39.
Synopsis: Kym Kramer is a former school librarian and teacher. In this article she provides a very brief introduction to what Reading Workshops are as well as the role that the school librarian can play in helping teachers implement and maintain them. Kramer describes reading workshops as “research-based curriculum that uses self-selected literature as a cornerstone” which “includes daily modeling and instruction on the strategies readers use, and heavy use of formative assessment to guide students as the strategies are applied” (p. 38). The point that she emphasizes the greatest is that the workshops are meant to: assist students with their reading needs, supply them with new books once they finish current ones, and use read-alouds for the purpose of inspiring conversation and thought. It is the author’s belief that these intended results are the same concepts librarians are interested in teaching students and that is the main reason they should be involved.
The description of what is exactly entailed in reading workshops was fairly brief, it would have been nice to have a more detailed explanation. After looking at other resources, to further explore the topic though, it becomes apparent that Reading Workshops are different in every situation. She does reference two books that she feels are excellent resources to guide those that are new to reading workshops. I feel that author does a great job with first identifying then elaborating the different ways that school librarians can play a part in helping to set them up and maintain them. In the later part of the article she brings up the implementation of the common core standards as well as the increasing use of electronic resources and how these also tie into what school librarians role is.  

Posted by Jessica King

What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School?

Jennifer Alfonso-Punzalan


K Schwartz.  (2013, March 4).  What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School?  [Web log comment].  Retrieved from

Design thinking is a way of learning such that students solve real-life problems with creatively thought-out solutions.  Students use multiple intelligences to solve problems.  The article uses the Nueva School in Hillsborough, California, a private K-8 school, as an example of a school where design thinking is incorporated in all the curricula and through all grades.  An example of design thinking is a project where 4th grade students use an LED light to make a light for the family member who needs a lamp the most.  The students must study how the person would use the light, research, and design a lamp.  Design thinking uses all sorts of intelligences, including empathy, visual, kinesthetic, and possibly other types of intelligence.

This is a good article to illustrate the real-life applications of what education should be doing for students in the 21st century.  Students are learning to identify problems, come up with and design solutions, learn how to collaborate and also be independent learners.  Design thinking fosters lifelong learning.

One Librarian’s Success Story

Tami Sickels
IL Media Literacy

JACOBS-ISRAEL, M. (2013). One Librarian’s Success Story. School Library Journal, 59(1), 20

Christine Poser is a media specialist in Staten Island, NY.  She jumped on board with the Common Core Standards and is one of the leaders in implementing them in her school.   She atttended several workshops on Common Core and the alignment with her state’s standards.  Even though she became very comfortable and familiar with Common Core, she realized that the other educators around her were not.  Poser began to build her collaborative relationships with the other teachers, parents, and even students.  She attended curriculum meetings and even help workshops to help the others understand the Common Core Standards.  She expanded the library’s collection to reflect the Common Core, which included more non-fiction.  To highlight these new additions, she created units with other teachers and put together changing book displays.  Poser also created a brochure and help an open house to introduce parents to the changes and show them the library’s website, databases, and even held workshops after school to invite the students and their parents to visit the library and “Warm up with a Good Book” and “Vote For Books”.
This article motivated me to accept the changes that Common Core Standards are bringing to our schools.  Christine Poser is an inspiration to all teacher librarians, young and old.  


Parker, Linda
Guder, C. (2010). Patrons and pedagogy: A look at the theory of connectivism. Public 

     Services Quarterly6(1), 36-42.

This article discusses a recent hot topic in education theory called connectivism.  With new advances in technology creating new styles of teaching and learning, it has become ever-important for librarians to keep up with the pace. These changes or shifts in the way that people interact with technology is what connectivism is all about.  A few of the basic principles of connectivism are as follows: 

  • Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
  • An ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (up-to-date, accurate knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
The article goes on to share that there are two basic styles of learning theory applied in the library setting: direction instruction and student-centered learning.  Given what technology provides in terms of tools, resources, applications, and access to information, learning has moved outside of the classroom and across technology’s networks – this is connectivism.  Connecting with others, with information via databases, social networking sites, creating one’s own learning experience is a means to becoming more effective and efficient learner.  To remain relevant in today’s culture of technology, libraries will need to explore how these different learning theories can connect us to our mission, our patrons, and our communities at large.

Goodbye Behaviorists

Michelle Windell


Yilmaz, K. (2011). The cognitive perspective on learning: Its theoretical underpinnings and implications for classroom practices.Clearing House, 84(5), 204-212.

This article begins by distinguishing behaviorism from cognitivism. Behaviorist learning theory asserts that learning is observable and measurable, encapsulated in the process of an organism responding to stimulus. In other words, it is a passive process. Conversely, cognitivism asserts that learning is an active process of making meaning out of new stimulus based on prior knowledge. The author distinguishes cognitivism from constructivism, indicating that teachers often confuse the two, but does not ever fully define constructivism. Instead, the two forerunners of cognitivism – Piaget and Vygotsky – are highlighted, along with implications for classroom instruction.

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development suggests that humans from the earliest age actively seek to interact with their environment. This interaction results in the individual assimilating, accommodating, or rejecting new knowledge based upon the mental constructs (schema) s/he already possesses. Vygotsky’s theory of social cognitivism suggests that people learn through social interaction, and that individuals have different optimum readiness levels for different information (zone of proximal development). The idea of scaffolding was born from this theory. Several other cognitive theorists are mentioned in less detail.

Five teaching methods based on the instructional implications are defined:

  1. Cognitive apprenticeship, which incorporates modeling, coaching, student articulation, reflection, and exploration.
  2. Reciprocal teaching, in which students are guided in the use of cognitive techniques to enable them to make meaning while reading.
  3. Inquiry learning, in which students employ higher order thinking skills to examine an issue or test a hypothesis.
  4. Discovery learning, similar to inquiry learning, in which the process of discovery and responsibility for one’s learning is emphasized over the content learned.
  5. Problem-based learning, in which students are presented with a problem to solve and a variety of potential resources, resulting in a myriad of possible solutions.

This article is a good refresher on cognitive theory, and simple enough for the novice to understand as well. The section on instructional implications and teaching methods correlates with our class texts and transformation work. I enjoyed connecting our process to its theoretical bases.