For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.

A Co-Teaching Example

Robillard, Gail

Cohen, S. (2015). Coteaching. Teacher Librarian, 42(5), 8-11. Retrieved at

After documenting the research that supports the benefits of co-planning, coteaching, and coassessing student learning outcomes to improve instruction and student learning, author Sydnye Cohen describes a ninth grade social studies unit she was involved in as a humanities librarian at New Canaan High School in Connecticut in the 2013-2014 school year. The content of the unit was the reasons for the collapse or survival of ancient civilizations. Collaboration for the unit was instigated by the department chair and ultimately involved 5 out of the 6 social studies teachers and the author. The teaching group decided on essential questions and goals, including having the students work collaboratively in small teams to research and share their findings using multiple platforms. It was also important to the author that the students learn how to appropriately evaluate and cite their sources. 

Two aspects of the article were of  particular interest to me. First, the author identified and discussed very specific choices that were made when designing the coteaching structure. For example, students were required to use the CRAP test to determine a sources’s authority, and while each social studies teacher assigned his or her own weight to this assessment, it was the author who graded the works consulted and provided feedback to the students so they could improve on the next phase of the project. The author included a diagram of the hierarchy of coteaching. These and other coteaching choices really provide almost a template for successful coteaching. 

Second, the author noted several assessments and tech tools that I want to investigate, such as the CRAP test, Tools for Real Time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS), infographics, electronic whiteboard, and as a collaborative platform. 

Allen, M. (2008). Promoting Critical Thinking Skills in Online Information Literacy Instruction Using a Constructivist Approach. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15(1/2), 21-38. doi:10.1080/10691310802176780. Retrieved from
This article discusses how the constructivist approach is becoming an increasingly popular way of teaching literacy skills in the library.  In this approach, the teacher works as the facilitator or the guide to learning. This is a trend that increasing in the library. Librarians are learning ways in which they can achieve these goals within their libraries. They are learning ways to make learning in ways that are more online and asynchronous instead of the typical one-shot lecture method.  This way is being embraced more and more and seems to be something that we need to embrace. 

KOHOUT, J., & GAVIGAN, K. (2015). The Years of Our Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 18-23. Retrieved from

The following article discusses the journey from inspiration to innovation as several librarian are inspired by our own professor David Loertscher.  This article discusses how two librarians who had attended a conference decided they were going to implement what they learned in their own school district. It outlines their project from the idea stage to full implementation within several libraries within their district and what they did in order to bring their idea to life.

Great Video on Behaviorist Theory

Jeselyn Templin


G., C. [Caitlin G.]. (2015, September 20). The breakdown: Behaviorist theory . Retrieved from

Caitlin G’s video on Behaviorist theory effectively breaks down the finer points of both Behaviorism and Constructivism by explaining their relationship to one another and how they differ.

The way she breaks down Behaviorism and Constructivism is very accessible to novices in the field. I appreciate the examples she uses, like Pavlov’s dogs to explain response to stimuli, to make sure her viewers understand what she is talking about. By the end of the video I felt well-versed in the basics of Behaviorist theory and ready to research more in the form of scholarly articles.

How do we do PBL – Project Based Learning?

Gabrielle Thormann 


Weyers, M. (2014). PBL Project Planning: Matching Projects to Standards.  Edutopia, retrieved from:

This article is the third article of a series of articles about how to implement project-based learning (PBL) in a middle school.  Before discussing this article, it’s useful to mention the two previous articles and beyond:  a stream of articles comprises a journal of implementing PBL.  In Minnesota a group of educators started with a reflection on current teaching practices that developed into a District Strategic Plan.  The teachers took the plan to their administrator with their mission statements with one being: “Byron Public Schools will leverage real-world tools and skills to develop in students a passion for learning.”  This particular public school is its own small district, and thus as part of a state mandate this public school partnered/”integrated” with other public schools.  It took time and steps to create the Project Based Learning program.  When they were ready, teachers introduced the program to parents and students.  Key points of the philosophy behind the program were presented.
This third article is useful in that failures are pointed to and rethinking begins. The success of a project based on is noted, as two PBL sites and resources were used, and parent involvement and collaboration is spoken of.  Taking a glance at the next article, the focus is primarily on the development of real-world projects:  one again based on The Kiva Project, one on a local environmental nature center, and one entrepreneurial project based on a TV show format. 

By following the next arrows on the bottom of this article, one can continue seeing the development of their program.  I appreciate this series of articles as a journal and reflection of how teachers created and implemented a program they had never done before.

Pedagogy for Practical Library Instruction

Karla Morones


Montgomery, M. (2015). Pedagogy for practical library instruction. Communications In Information Literacy, 9(1), 19-23.

This article touches on the fact that many librarians have no background knowledge on educational theories.  The author gives personal experiences with her learning process and fish out of water feeling when she first started her position at an academic library.  The author explains how much knowledge a librarian really needs to know and how to obtain the knowledge to become effective instructors.


I very much enjoyed this article.  I felt the author was talking about my particular feelings and experiences.  I, too felt like fish out of water, and I appreciated her humor and tips on pedagogy. The author, much like I did, kept returning to constructivism theory as the best way for her to engage her students.  She had to begin teaching herself theory and pedagogy through books and journal articles.  She also joined organizations such as ALA, ACRL, Library Juice Academy, OCLC’s WebJunction, and others that provided both free and fee-based training via webinars and online classes. She then proceeded to focus her studies on this theory and began applying it to her classes.  She found student led activities had much better outcomes than other activity she had planned.  

"Welcome to the Jam": Popular Culture, School Literacy, and the Making of Childhoods

Faulk, M.

In this ethnographic study of a group of African American first graders, Anne Haas Dyson illustrates the textual processes-the deliberate manipulation of popular cultural material–involved in the children’s shared practices as playful children and good friends. These same processes shaped the ways the children made sense of and began to participate in school literacy. The observed children did not approach official literacy activities in their classroom as though they had nothing to do with their own childhoods. They made use of familiar media-influenced practices and symbolic material to take intellectual and social action in the official school world. Dyson offers a fresh perspective on children’s experiences with popular media, emphasizing that they are an integral aspect of contemporary childhoods, not an external threat. Moreover, she presents an alternative view of the pathways and mechanisms through which children enter into school literacy practices, one that illuminates how children build from the very social and symbolic stuff of their own childhoods. (pp. 328-361).

Very fluid and informative article on the multi-modal ways children assimilate new information and learn effectively. The reader receives an honest snapshot in the day of the life.

School literacy, African American 1st graders, multiple literacies, childhood, girls

K-12 Education Restructuring – Institute of Progressive Edcuation & Learning

Fluetsch, Christopher
Institute of Progressive Education & Learning. (n.d.) K-12 Education Restructuring. Retrieved from

Our education system is constantly adjusting to meet the ever-changing needs of our students. One of the current change movements is “Education Restructuring.” Education restructuring refers to moving away from teacher-driven, content-based education to collaboration-driven, process-based education.

Traditionally, classroom teachers made the final decision about what would be taught in their classrooms and through what process. Certainly, teachers had to deal with a lot of outside influences, including state standards, district curriculum direction, textbook adoptions and parent expectations. Nevertheless, the classroom teacher was the final authority, often working alone to produce curriculum.

The Restructuring model sees education as a collaborative process, with multiple experts and stakeholders assisting the teacher. Librarians, Special Education teachers, English Language Acquisition specialists, Reading specialists and many others work with the teacher to create and provide curriculum. Student needs, desires and interests are also taken into account, with students moving from passive receptors of education to active acquirers.

Restructuring also includes a movement from Content to Process. In previous generations, acquiring knowledge was considered the most important aspect of schooling. Students memorized dates, figures, names and so forth. Modern technology is quickly making such a model obsolete. Basic facts are at everyone’s fingers, and as technology advances, having memorized information will become even less important.

Instead, students need to learn the process of acquiring knowledge. They need to learn how to identify and seek out the information they need to complete a particular task. They need to learn skills for evaluating the quality of information they receive. These sorts of process-skills are going to be important in a future that holds employment and life possibilities that we cannot even envision.

This article address both these Restructuring issues clearly and briefly. It is an excellent starting place.