The Power of (in) the (Im)possible

Great article that has influenced my thinking around collaboration and co-teaching, and has especially helped me re-think my perception of myself as a Teacher Librarian–a vital part of a learning community.

Todd, R. (2013). The power of (in) the (Im)possible. Teacher Librarian, (41)2.

New Year’s Resolution: Teach More, Librarian Less.

Litzinger, Vicki


Ray, Mark.  (2012) New Year’s Resolution: Teach More. Librarian Less. Teacher Librarian,  39(3), 52 – 53.


Mark Ray, as the 2012 Washington State Teacher of the Year, urges us to teach more, to be visible in our schools, and to point out to others when we’ve had a class of excellent teaching. He briefly discusses two other teacher-librarians in Washington State who are making a difference in their schools with an emphasis on being teachers and educational leaders in their schools. He points out that they do this by being active on educational committees and workgroups, working closely with their administrations and colleagues or by becoming specialists in a particular kind of teaching and learning style. They are “leading by example, effectively advocating for teacher librarians and school library programs by focusing on great teaching” (52) The authors final points are about emphasizing our excellent instruction and willingness to learn from our colleagues so that our students benefit.


We love libraries and librarians, and that is a major reason that most of us when into this profession. And now we are expected to teach, and we see our teaching responsibilities as equal to or secondary to our librarian roles. Ray is telling us to change our thinking and completely refocus on being teachers first! The author details several concrete examples of how to do that from being very visible in our schools, actively participating on educational teams,  and to seeking out colleagues with whom to share and learn from. It’s all about advocacy for ourselves, our programs, and our students.

Building Bridges

Litzinger, Vicki


Wong, Tracey. (2013) Building bridges. Library Media Connection, Oct2013, 32(2), p30-31.


Ms. Wong starts by being very clear about a rocky relationship she had with a principal over a difference of opinion regarding her professional responsibilities. She knew she needed to take the initiative, and through hard work and a lot of communication and advocacy, she overcame this “adversarial relationship.” (32) In this article she discusses how she “learned to stand up for myself” with “the five points on building bridges.” (32) The points are: building communication, building community, building partnerships, building relationships, and building resources.

All five points were about advocating for herself and her program by discussing, highlighting, and showing what her students did and were learning through her programming. Through building communication, Wong kept her principal informed of all the work she did specifically around grants and opportunities she brought to the school. For community building, the author created a newsletter where she she highlighted student work as well as the collaborations she was forming with colleagues. To build relationships with her colleagues, she made herself invaluable when they needed help with projects or classroom work. And she made a point of conducting professional development opportunities for her staff. Wong also developed community partnerships to plant trees and to bring volunteers into the school. Finally, building resources was about her continued work to bring in grant funding for special projects. She was so successful at this, that she was asked to write a grant for their at risk student population and brought in $144,000.

Overall, “building bridges” took a lot of time, energy, and commitment. However, the “180 degree” (33) turn that happened with her principal was all worth it.


I am constantly looking for practical, no-nonsense, suggestions of what I can do to advocate for myself and my program. Wong is very clear about the time and commitment it will take to “build bridges.” And as professionals, this article is very clear about constantly needing to build these relationships, partnerships, communications, resources, and communities. Yes, we will be recognized as the professionals we are and what we contribute to our programs and schools, but it’s our students who will win the most.

Stuck behind the curve: How the academic law library can help students who struggle in law school

Gary Lui

Gonzalez, J. A. (2014). Stuck behind the curve: How the academic law library can help students who struggle in law school. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 33(3), 239-268. doi:10.1080/0270319X.2014.922396

The Gonzalez (2014) article make several suggestions as to how law librarians can help with law students’ process skills by having law school librarians work with the law school professors. Gonzalez particularly suggests that law librarians in law school are most capable of helping struggling law students.  Law libraries have many resources now to help law students to learn such as outlines and study aids, as well as providing space in the law library for students to study. Most law librarians in these law libraries are skilled in helping law students with legal research. Though “[m]any law schools separate law librarians from full-time, tenured faculty, but most librarians have teaching roles [however], especially in the first-year legal research curriculum” (Gonzalez, 258). Law libraries and the librarians who work in them also have existed in law schools for a longer time compared to academic support programs, which are a recent development.
Academic support programs are currently programs developed to help struggling students in law schools. Therefore, law librarians should collaborate with law professors in supporting academic support programs (ASPs) in law schools.

The Gonzalez article is interesting in the suggestion of law librarians collaborating with law professors to work together on behalf of the law students. “An effective way for librarians to serve as a bridge between professors and students would come from partnering with professors on student assignments” (258). I think Gonzalez is convincing in advocating for collaboration between law librarians and law professors in supporting academic support programs for law students struggling in law schools. I believe academic support services are the future of law library services.

In School Libraries, Differentiation Through Curation

Karla Morones


Morris, Rebecca. “In School Libraries, Differentiation Through Curation”. Harvard Education Publishing Group. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 May 2016.


This blog posting covers how important the skill of digital curation is for school librarians to have.  The author would like to see digital curation not only in the hands of school librarians but the students as well. She believes having the students involved in the curation of digital material would lead to differentiation. Morris sees this happening by app smashing, a term coined by educator Greg Kulowiec, where a student would use multiple apps to complete a final task.  Morris suggests that school librarians would make excellent curators because they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable in helping teachers and students evaluate select and use digital tools

I found this article informative and  a valuable resource.  This is a skill that would serve all librarians well, being able to provide students and teachers with a list of digital resources that could be used for a lesson or a research project would help immensely.  It is important to differentiate learning for students and teachers this would make way for more effective collaboration.

Three Heads are Better than One

Whitney Fischer



Parrott, D. J., & Keith, K. J. (2015). Three Heads Are Better Than One. Teacher Librarian, 42(5), 12-18.

This article posits that due to ever-occurring budget cuts, now is the time for teacher librarians to step up and take a more active role in developing curriculum by working closely with classroom teachers. At many schools writing teachers and information literacy coaches have been forced out of the job, but teacher librarians possess many of the skills necessary to fill that gap in instruction.  With these new opportunities to be more involved in the classroom come new responsibilities, of course, and teacher librarians should familiarize themselves with Common Core standards to ensure that they are helping students reach the necessary benchmarks.

This article is helpful because it suggests specific steps teacher librarians can take to increase their impact in the classroom.  Teachers possess the knowledge of how their individual students learn, but teacher librarians have the means and know-how to instruct students how to research effectively and accurately.  Though it is regrettable that information literacy coaches and reading specialists are becoming extinct in schools, I agree with the author that those positions can be filled by teacher librarians.

Collaboration With Teachers

Enhanced and Changing Roles of School Librarians Under the Digital Age

Lo, P., & Chiu, D. W. (2015). Enhanced and changing roles of school librarians under the digital age. New Library World,116(11/12), 696-710.

This article talks about the changing roles of school librarians due to the increase in enquiry-based student learning and use of more technology.  This paper is based on a qualitative analysis of the interviews with three practicing secondary school librarians in Hong Kong. Recommends that school librarians take a more proactive role in helping teachers. They need to become known as information providers and curriculum facilitators. It also discusses how school librarians have a lot of freedom in the way they use their skills to collaborate since their are no set standards or checklist to follows. This article is informative and helps inspire librarians to be more proactive and creative. It also helps to show that collaboration helps make you more in demand and helps with job security.

Team Learning and Collaboration Between Online and Blended Learner Groups

Stefani Tovar

Lim, D. H., & Yoon, S. W. (2008). Team learning and collaboration between online and blended learner groups. Performance Improvement Quarterly21(3), 59.

This article examines online and blended learning models to determine which, if any, offers a more collaborative platform of instruction.

While its approach may vary, the study focuses on blended learning, which offers a combination of online, in-person meetings on a campus or other site (i.e. museum, park, etc), as well as opportunities for live instruction with professors. Highlights of the findings showed a significant difference between these two approaches. Among them were higher student performance and collaboration opportunities among the blended learners.  A possible cause of these findings were linked to the effectiveness of the professor and their ability to facilitate meaningful work.  Also the perception of social belonging was significant in both groups, favoring the blended learning approach.

I found this article of personal interest because of the nature of the MLIS program at SJSU.  I think that these findings are supported by my own experiences thus far in the program.  The engagement of the instructor, the motivation of the students and delivery of instruction fluctuate in quality from course to course, affecting the meaningful learning and collaborative opportunities available to students.  I don’t believe the findings are startling, but they help support that regardless of the medium, teacher quality is a central theme.

How A Moveable Space Can Ignite Creativity In The Classroom

May 5th, 2015

Elizabeth Brown

Pfau, P. (2014, November 26). How a moveable space can ignite creativity in the classroom mind shift  
[Web log post] Retrieved from

Summary: Imagine a classroom with mobile desks and chairs that move with the students. In his KQED blog, Peter Pfau (2014) writes how in some schools, stationary learning environments are now a thing of the past. Instead, “moveable spaces” are being created with an innovative educational technique called “Design Thinking.” Pfau explains,”It combines hands on learning (tinkering with independent problem solving methodologies).” That being said, these projects emphasize the importance of group work as well.  To that end, Pfau gives two examples that encourages student team- work: “Create a shared design-thinking space for all students to use” and “Look for spaces in your classroom that can be transformed into a student-driven collaboration classroom.” According to Pfau, Design Thinking employs four different steps: “Identify the problem and research to understand the problem better.” “Brainstorm possible strategies and identity solutions.” “Test these solutions (welcoming failure as a tool)” and “Apply what you learn to evolve best solutions.”

Evaluation: With “design thinking” and other maker spaces, the learning environment is of utmost importance. Moreover, students will learn more effectively if they create the space themselves  and make it their own because they will have the self-satisfaction of knowing that they designed their own classroom. They will also be more productive, being able to move around, as opposed to being confined to a small desk and chair. In addition, making mobile learning environments does double-duty in terms of practical learning applications. Not only are the students making their own functional working stations that they can later use, the space itself is the project. In the process, students will become self-directed learners or “designers” whom not only know how to work with other students and solve problems, they will know how to create useful (learning) spaces in the future.

By Terry Funk

Ondrack, J. (2004). Great Collection! But is it enough?. School Libraries In Canada23(3), 12-17.

Summary: This article discusses the necessity of teacher librarians collaborating with teachers to have a useful collection and increase development of student competence in information skills. Collaboration gives collection development a school wide focus, a sense of shared ownership of library resources, greater access and use, and more input in the organization and planning of future purchases. Suggestions for developing better relationships include the use of Resource Based Learning (integrating information skills with classroom instruction and program planning), having a library weeding party that includes teachers and the principal, selecting new materials that support projects and the curriculum, providing more instruction for both teachers and students and aligning the collection with school instruction. 

Evaluation: Without collaboration, can a collection, even a good one, address student needs, and provide curriculum support. According to this article the answer is ‘No”. While teacher connections are key to developing a collection there is often little input from teachers. According to this article, it is the Teacher Librarian who needs to take an active role in making sure there is collaboration and that recommendations from teachers regarding resources are followed. As we have studied all semester, when collaboration occurs, creative ideas come together, as in the learning commons, and both student participation and achievement rise.