Reading incentive programs

Greene, Shannon


“Accelerated Reader: Once again, evidence lacking“, American Library Association, November 14, 2007. (Accessed October 30, 2013)

Stephen Krashen, famous to me through his theory of affective filters,  has made another argument against the use of reading incentive programs for encouraging children to read. Although he acknowledges there can be short term gains, in this, and his earlier article from 2005, “Accelerated Reader: Evidence Still Lacking”, he claims that the advantages of children spending more time reading and more access to books are good things, however there is not yet any proof that expensive software programs to test comprehension and/or prizes for reading are producing any tangible effects and instead, may be harmful in the long run.

This article interests me because with the roll out of Common Core, discussions of reading programs are occurring throughout our school district at all levels.

Reconsidering Information Literacy in the 21st Century

Jack, Gordon
IL – Constructivism and IL
IL – Media Literacy
ET – Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
McBride, M.F. (2012). Reconsidering information literacy in the 21st century: The redesign of an information literacy class. Journal of Education Technology Systems, 40(3), 287-300. Retrieved from:
The article discusses McBride’s attempt to revise his undergraduate information literacy (IL) course to move beyond basic research skills and incorporate a more constructivist way of teaching. By creating a more problem-based learning (PBL) approach, the instructor was also able to include a greater emphasis on Connectivism, which “posits that learning takes place when learners make connections between ideas located throughout their personal learning networks, which are composed of numerous information resources and technologies” (p. 290).  Only by broadening our understanding of information literacy in this way can we build students’ Transliteracy, or their understanding and use of a wide variety of information sources across different platforms, including print, radio, TV, film, and social networks.  To build the students’ Transliteracy skills, the instructor had his students create documentaries on their research subjects and share them on YouTube and with the class.  While no data was gathered to assess the efficacy of this approach, the instructor was pleased with how it moved students beyond traditional research skills and incorporated critical 21st Century Skills.

The author provides an interesting example of how traditional research methods courses are being adapted to address the changing world of information retrieval. As McBride writes, “The course redesign was conceived in order to make the students information literate for the 21st century and not to make them research literate for their college careers” (p. 288).  By making his course more constructivist with PBL methods, he made the research methods more relevant and engaging.  I was unfamiliar with the terms Connectivism and Transliteracy, and the article provided clear explanations of each, along with some research to support their greater inclusion in curriculum.  His description of Connectivism reminded me of what students experience in LIBR 250, with an emphasis on using our shared understanding to build greater knowledge.  Transliteracy broadens the scope of information literacy to include the many different communication tools available online.  While McBride’s work is interesting and supported by the current research, I wish he included a section assessing his students’ knowledge and skills at the end of the course.  Without that data, it is hard for the reader to fully understand the significant gains, if any, his students made with this new approach.

The Inquiry Process

Chambers, Julia
S00077474. (2011, August). The inquiry process diagram. [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Here is a great infographic on the Inquiry Process created by educators in Australia:
This website, which was created by a group of educators in Australia for a specific university, also includes a thorough description of inquiry learning skills as they relate to information processing skills, critical and creative thinking skills, communicating skills, and reflective and metacognitive skills.

Evaluation: I like this graphic (as well as the other tabs on this site) because it reveals how deeply the inquiry process should be at every stage of the information gathering, evaluating, and reporting process. I tend to focus inquiry on the initial stages of research, but this visual helps reveal how inquiry is an ongoing, inter-related process.
ET- Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL- Critical Thinking
IL- Analysis and Sythesis

The Flipped Classroom: Online instruction at home frees class time for learning

This article is based on the “flipped classroom” and its’ positive effects that it has had on the classroom score outcome.  The core idea is to flip the common instructional approach: With teacher-created videos and interactive lessons, instruction that used to occur in class is now accessed at home, in advance of class. Class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time.

Bergmann and Sams, two science teachers from Colorado, began the process to assist those students who were absent the previous day.  By watching the videos or podcasts prior to school, it allowed the students to come prepared the following day.  It also opened the door for educators to stay ahead and there were no excuses for not being prepared for the following days activity.  Scores rose in both the ELA and Math areas, almost 16%.  


This article provides the effectiveness of the flipped classroom.  It describes how the classroom works by placing the responsibility of being prepared on the student’s shoulders.  Teachers state that they now have more time to work individually with their students.  This gives more time for students who are struggling, who know longer give up on homework because the teacher is there when the work is done.  There fore, though some work assignments are challenging, they are still getting done, because the teacher is there for assistance..

Jack, Gordon

CO –Collaboration Strategies
ET – Constructivism and Behaviorism
ET – Flipped Classroom, Blended Learning
Fogleman, J. , Niedbala, M. , & Bedell, F. (2013). Writing and publishing in a blended learning environment to develop students’ scholarly digital ethos. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 32(2), 71-85. doi: 10.1080/01639269.2013.787251
This article describes a blended learning course designed to improve the scholarly research and writing skills of freshmen college students.  The authors describe the “millennial” students as having favoring speed of results over quality when it comes to online research.  The course was designed to foster a more thoughtful, academic approach to information retrieval.  Faculty and the school librarian collaborated on a course that emphasized the following core instructional strategies in its learning environment:
  • Project-based learning
  • Blended online and face-to-face learning
  • Scaffolding toward more complex cognitive tasks
  • Writing to learn
  • Building authentic knowledge

Over the four years that the instructors taught and developed the course, student use of

scholarly databases increased 16% and their use of commercial websites decreased by 39%.  82% of the students found the face-to-face sessions with the librarian useful, while only 38% found the online tutorials useful.
The article provides a case study of effective collaboration between teachers and librarians to improve students’ information literacy skills.  The focus of the course on using both behaviorist and constructivist teaching methods helps illustrate the challenge of the blended learning model.  Students in this study assessed the library sessions much higher than the online tutorials.  Perhaps the face-to-face instruction allowed the librarian to be more responsive to the students’ needs. It is hard to assess the quality of the online tutorials without access to them.  Even though only 38% of students found the online tutorials effective, that’s still one-third of the class who benefitted from having access to this instruction.  The challenge for educators with blended learning seems to be finding the right “blend” of face-to-face instruction and self directed learning. These educators fine-tuned this course for four years before being satisfied with the results.

Using Curriculuar Cultures to Engage Middle School Thinkers

Using Curriculuar Cultures to Engage Middle School Thinkers

Chambers, Julia

Schnuit, L. (2006, September). Using curricular cultures to engage middle school thinkers. Middle School Journal 38(1). P. 4-12 Retrieved from
This article recaps a case study conducted in 2005-6 that had three teachers try an alternative “curriculum culture” in their middle school classrooms. Curriculum culture is defined as the way curriculum is delivered or the expectations, habits and norms that surround the learning. The three cultures were 1) a Culture of Constructivism, in which the focus is on building knowledge through student inquiry; 2) a Culture of Democracy, in which the focus is on preparing students to be capable citizens of a democracy through shared authority and responsibilities with teacher as facilitator; 3) Culture of Self & Spirit, which emphasizes educating the “whole child”, including social-emotional, physical, academic, and creative well-being. All three cases were deemed successful, with teachers reporting that their classrooms and their teaching practices had been revitalized.

Evaluation: As a Middle School Librarian, I can see why this age group, in particular, might benefit from any type of culture other than top-down, directed teaching. This article made me interested in reading more about the Culture of Democracy, because I think this culture would appeal greatly to the kids at my school – more so perhaps than the other two cultures since it’s based on participation and would suit many of their egos. It’s also (perhaps) a more concrete approach than constructivism and holistic teaching. It seems like this age group is still struggling to think in the abstract, so a democratic structure/approach to learning provides the comfort of exploring the abstract in a controlled environment.


Common Core Brings Teacher Librarians to Center Stage

Besich, Lauren
Gewertz, C. (2012). Common Core thrusts school librarians into leadership roles. Education Week, 32(3), 1-19.  Retrieved from
This article talks about the opportunity Common Core is giving teacher librarians to step into leadership positions in schools.  Since Common Core focuses more on inquiry, and librarians are experts at inquiry, they need to use their expertise to improve teaching and training in schools. 
Teacher librarians need to guide instructors through the shift from rote memorization to inquiry-based learning through collaborative planning, providing resources, and leading professional developments on site. When planning with teachers, TLs should encourage moving away from questions that can be answered with Google and towards questions that require a synthesis of multiple types of resources. 
Teacher librarians also need to revamp their collections to meet the demands of Common Core.  Now that there is stronger emphasis on challenging non-fiction texts, TLs have more leverage when requesting budget money from principals to improve the school’s collection.   The article also suggests that TLs need to encourage age-appropriate reading materials based on Lexile scores. 
I like how this article outlines how Common Core effects teacher librarians, which was a topics I wanted to learn more about in my reading plan.  This article helped me view Common Core from a librarian’s point of view, as opposed to the teacher’s point of view I usually view it from.  I like the direction Common Core is going with inquiry-based teaching, as I believe it will provide for more constructivist learning. 

Hall, Dawn
CA – Assessment Strategies
CA – Common Core Assessments
CO – Collaboration Strategies
Stripling, B. K., & Harada, V. H. (2012, December). Designing learning experiences for deeper understanding. School Library Monthly, 29(3), 5-12.

This article provides a very comprehensive outline of how librarians and teachers can work together designing lessons that result in deeper levels of student understanding. The authors, Stripling and Harada, note that designing lessons backwards is the key. Goal setting should begin the planning phase, then assessment. Next comes locating resources and technology that “the teacher and students find exciting and relevant”. Also, included in this article is Stripling’s Model of Inquiry. According to the authors, working with inquiry framework in mind is necessary for determining which of the Common Core Standards the lesson is focused. The authors also stress the importance of using formative as well as summative assessments.

Did Students Get It? Self-Assessment as Key to Learning

Hall, Dawn
CA – Assessment Strategies
Louis, P., & Harada, V. H. (2012, December). Did students get it? Self-assessment as key to learning. School Library Monthly, 29(3), 13-16.

This article describes how to move from teacher-focused assessment models of instruction to more student-centered instructional models. The authors acknowledge that this change “requires a dramatic paradigm shift in what is taught and how it is taught”. However, the use of formative assessments has shown to help “students in making direct connections” between how well they are working and how much they are learning. Essential to this new method is that lesson planning begin with the goals rather than the activites. Once goals have been defined, assessment criteria must be developed in a way that students can participate in their own assessment. The article also provides two examples clearly outlining the process of transforming old lesson plans from teacher focused to student focused.  

Formative Assessment: Transforming Information Literacy Instruction

Jack, Gordon
CA, Assessment Strategies
Dunaway, M. , & Orblych, M. (2011). Formative assessment: Transforming information literacy instruction. Reference Services Review, 39(1), 24-41.
doi: 10.1108/00907321111108097#sthash.5Oydu0Yb.dpuf
This article discusses the value of formative assessments in information literacy instruction.  The authors describe a case study among graduate students at the University of Michigan business school in which a librarian collaborated with a faculty member on a series of research lessons.  By utilizing both pre and formative assessments, the instructors were better able to gauge the varying levels of library skills and tailor their curriculum and instruction so that it met the students’ diverse needs.  In addition to describing their research study, Dunaway and Orblych also summarize the literature on formative assessment that shows how it can be an effective teaching tool and include examples of the questionnaires they gave to students. 

While the case study described here is about graduate students, the conclusions are relevant to those in high school and college.  If anything, the variance of research skills is greater with younger students.  The article reinforces the need to design quality instruction and assessment when teaching research skills.  Too often, the teacher-librarian is invited into a class to provide a single lesson on library skills.  This results in a lecture with little student engagement or retention of the material.  Designing the lessons with pre and formative assessments allows the instructors to tailor their curriculum and instruction based on student needs.  Without these assessments, it’s impossible to differentiate the curriculum.  More importantly, “assessment encourages students to examine their learning processes and consider ways that they might learn more effectively in the future” (p. 26).