Inquiry-Based Teaching

Oakes, Constance

Topic:  Educational Theory and Practice (ET)

Bibliographic Citation: Kohn, A. (2013, October 29). A dozen essential guidelines for educators. Retrieved from Alfie Kohn website:

Summary:  An article by Alfie Kohn, an author, and lecturer on education and parenting. This is a short listing of the core principles used in progressive education that nicely explain what an inquiry-based or project-based classroom should look like and what it shouldn’t.  

Evaluation/Opinion:  I find this article/list to be a great way to quickly get an understanding of how inquiry-based learning works and looks.  I like that it does say it is messy. I think it also lets teachers see that it can be a shift out of their comfort zone as their thinking and teaching will change as they move into an inquiry-based program.

Embedding Assessment Throughout the Project (Keys to PBL Series Part 5)

Embedding Assessment Throughout the Project (Keys to PBL Series Part 5)

This 2-minute video is a must see.  This video is part 5 in a 5-part miniseries. The video teaches how to embed assessments in the beginning middle and end of your teaching.  The tools in this video are real-world connection, core to learning, structured collaboration, and student driven.

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.

Genius Hour

Felix Davila III
RUSH, E. B. (2015). Genius hour in the library. Teacher Librarian, 43(2), 26-30. Retrieved from
In this article, Rush details her approach to developing “Genius Hour” within her school library, noting that approach can be daunting because the purpose of the hour is to allow students to thoroughly research using methods by the librarian for a topic of their choice. The amount of variance may be hefty, but the research time is invaluable for students to become more acclimated to the research process, research methods and progressing through a project with such freedom. Most importantly from this article is Rush’s point that librarians should take care to provide some structure, having at least one physical book pertaining to each topic a student chooses and having a plethora of resources that can advance research goals from a tech perspective too, that way students receive a blended exposure to investigating topics.

This particular article was incredibly important, in my eyes, and it seems to really provide a positive effect on professional goals. During this semester, a class booked the library for a week long project of investigating anxiety, explaining what respectively affects them and how to counteract it or what they do best to handle it. Their research immediately began with running to the stacks, but my library team scrambled together a listing of resources, including websites, apps and community peer support groups that allowed students to supplement their research and find ways to combat their own anxiety. Rush’s explanation is applicable in more ways than just my example, but it goes to show that providing a thin framework from a multitude of sources can go a long way.

Beyond The Bird Unit

Robins article is a stellar demonstration of how to complete thorough and strong collaboration between teachers and teacher librarians. While she initiates the article with a detailed examination of constructivist theory and its umbrella topics, she uses the theories to support her advice on collaboration. Robins notes that teachers are the spearhead of the operation, and teacher librarians must realize that it is the teacher lesson plan that is the ultimate goal and journey of the activity and research. The librarian must facilitate and enhance it in order to maximize learning goals. She warns, however, that the amount of work can be of high demand, so she recommends using “asynchronous collaboration” using online tools, messaging apps and the like to bolster communication and combined effort. Robins strongest point, though, lies in her admission that students must have motivation to learn. They must recognize the importance of their work, their research and understand how much is demanded of them. In addition, students must find legitimacy or “rationality” in their work, knowing everything is supported by factual evidence.

The importance of this article, I believe, is supported by the notion that collaboration is key but is rooted in the idea that librarians must encourage students to truly embark on an informational journey. They must accept the prescribed methods that the teacher and teacher librarian have set up for them in order to succeed. But because the librarian is important to this process, just as Rush details, the need to guide and provide the necessary tools for effective self-instruction must be available and provided.


Campbell, Renee

Reale, Michelle. (2016). “Hands-off “ teaching: facilitating conversation as pedagogy in library instruction. Digital Pedagogy Lab. Digital Pedagogy Lab. Retrieved from

Discussion on the theory and practice of conversation-led, instead of librarian-led, inquiry. Based on the pedagogy of the radical educator, Paulo Freire, Reale outlines a librarian’s role to not just front-load inquiry “tools”, but to first join in conversation with students to find out what their information needs really are. She emphasizes the importance of creating a safe place, oftentimes by meeting them in their classrooms, “to lay a foundation for students to create their own process, to show them a way to begin, and to reassure them that it is okay not to know what you don’t know”.

Reale’s article was the perfect balance of inspirational pedagogy and practical application. Coming from a MEd. program ten years ago that focused on social justice education, her article reminded me of why I love teaching. The organic methodology is what I have hoped librarianship could be.