A foundational article that reads like it could be written today

Cothran, T.
Wiggins, G. (1989) The futility of trying to teach everything of importance. Educational leadership. 47(3), p. 44-59. Retrieved from http://www.ibmidatlantic.org/Wiggins.pdf

Summary: Sadly, this 1989 article reads like it could be written today. Whether in 1989 it was a reflection of changing thought on our educational system or a challenge to the status quo, I’m not sure. Wiggins argues eloquently for an inquiry driven process to learning, noting that students can’t possible learn everything there is they need to know by 12th grade. Rather, it should be our job to teach them to question, to check their own assumptions, and the skills to find the answers they need to solve a problem or provide a deeper understanding to something of interest/need.

Evaluation: I think this is an insightful article. I find it a bit distressing that we haven’t moved forward in this direction more in the 30 years since it was written. This was before we saw the explosion of access to information brought about by the internet and our personal handheld devices! In Wiggins arguments, there a couple of key take-aways for me. He talks about standards and how standards should reflect a process rather than content. This makes me think about how the AALS standards are written. I’ve often reflected in my lesson designs that if you are building a strong unit, learners will access those standards throughout their learning process depending on where they are in their learning journey. That’s not to say that some won’t need to be pushed to go deeper, but it’s an argument for meeting learners where they are and helping them become stronger.

He is clearly advocating for teachers as facilitators of learning. He even calls for teachers to be an “intellectual librarian.” This makes me consider how we, as librarians, model this kind of process in our spaces. What can we do (even with our fixed schedules etc.) to engage learners when they encounter our spaces (physical or virtual).

I particularly appreciated his parallel of learning as related to sports or the performing arts. As someone with a theater background, I can honestly say that my most connected learning has come about when developing theater pieces. Depending on a show, history comes alive and I can see it and it’s importance — it’s not just a bunch of names and dates on a page. Scientific arguments and mysteries may be revealed. I question the status quo and want to know more. It’s also a collaborative learning process. If you are an actor, you are deeply immersed in the why and how of your character. A designer is immersed in creating a visual or aural world. All of these pieces come together (aka all of these people collaborate) to create something that is larger than any one of them could on their own. It reminds me of Dr. L’s advocacy for a meaningful culminating activity.

Making personalized learning projects possible

Sasaki, Lori


Schwartz, K. (2017, December 4). Tips and Tricks to keep kids on track during genius hour projects. KQED Mindshift. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/12/04/tips-and-tricks-to-keep-kids-on-track-during-genius-hour-projects/?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20171210Mindshift&mc_key=00Qi000001WzPsREAV

This article outlines one teacher’s advice and experience around Genius Hour, or “20 percent time projects.” The teacher shares anecdotes and examples (including a student video) of the challenges and successes in implementing this kind of student-centered learning.

There is not a comprehensive explanation of the entire project, however the article touches upon various important stages, such as defining the problem, staying organized, and assessment. The tangible tools and tips (with lots of links to resources) for managing personalized learning projects helped to make this kind of learning process seem both inspiring and realistically do-able.

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 http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=34179935&site=ehost-live&scope=site
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. 

Transforming pedagogy: changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered

Jana Brubaker


Dole, S., Bloom, L., and Kowalske, K.  (2016).  Transforming pedagogy: changing perspectives from teacher-centered to learner-centered.  Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 10(1).

This article reviews the similarities and differences of problem-based learning and project-based learning, which was interesting to me.  Both are inquiry based, and have similar processes, but different results.  Project-based learning results in a product, or an artifact, while problem-based learning results in solutions rather than products.  One important similarity between the two is the role of the teacher as a facilitator or a coach.  Another similarity is that both are cross-curricular and emphasize student choice.  Both contain what is needed for deeper learning and content mastery.  This deeper learning transfers to other contexts.  
Although research is beginning to show that these models of learning produce deeper learning, they are difficult to implement in schools that are focused on standards-based learning and assessment.  Such a big change in pedagogy takes time.  Teachers need to be able to discuss, think about, and practice teaching in this way before implementing it.  The authors conducted a field study in which they offered an online summer course, with one week of field experience, on both models of learning.  After returning to the classroom, they interviewed the teacher participants to find out if they were using these models of learning. Sixty-four percent of the teachers said that they were still using the models due to the course and field experience and 100% said they would recommend those models to others.

Most of the teachers said it was a great learning experience for them.  They learned how to maintain order in an environment that appears more chaotic.  They were able to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills in a new way.  They learned how to differentiate and allow students to take control of their learning.  Student participants also had positive experiences.  Classroom climate was reportedly better.  Student-teacher relationships improved too. Overall, the article helped me gain a better grasp of the differences between the two teaching models.

Creating a Students’ Library Website

Debbie Gibbons


Schroeder, E. E. 1. & Zarinnia, A. E. 2. (2012). Creating a students’ library website. School Library Monthly, 28(7). 29-32. Retrieved from  http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=86858664&site=ehost-live

Many librarians curate a website for their users. This article explains why and how a librarian should use the website to support knowledge creation. In contributing to a collective library website, learners engage in conversation and collaboration to build and share knowledge. They develop the skills of reasoning, problem solving, and the ability to work with others. The article names several elements of an engaging website and lists tech tools and programs for the librarian to implement.


As a longtime classroom teacher, I have been studying educational theories and trends for years. But in a recent move to the computer lab, the learning curve for educational technology has been steep. I appreciate articles like this which list technology applications and their functions in encouraging student learning. This article was published in 2012, so new programs have been developed since, but many of the tools suggested are still relevant.

Calling for a United Front on Assessment FOR Learning

Maricar Laudato

CA-Formative and Summative Assessments

Dixon, M. (2009). Formative assessment practice, formative leadership practice, formative teaching practice, assessment of learning, assessment for learning, assessment as learning. New Zealand Principals’ Federation Magazine, 15-17.

In this article, Malcolm Dixon makes the case for the important distinction between Assessment of Learning and Assessment for Learning. In Assessment of Learning, administrative and governmental entities call for the collection of information that assess and compare the performance of students against a set of academic standards. Examples of Assessment of Learning would be the annual standardized tests that students would be required to take under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (2015). Dixon argues that the nature of Assessment of Learning does not enhance student understanding or improve the quality of learning. This is when Dixon proposes a simple switch in words from “of” to “for” causes a revolution when educators start moving towards Assessment for Learning. In this situation, teachers put the focus on asking students questions about what and how they learn and supports the developmental needs of a more Constructivist learning approach.

I really liked reading Dixon’s article; so much so that I searched Twitter to see if he had an account so that I could follow him but I couldn’t find any (I try and follow library professionals that I admire and other organizations that align with my professional goals). His theories on formative assessment is probably the one I read that come closest to The Big Think theories. I liked how he was able to pack in some large theoretical ideas in relatively easy to understand language that was engaging. Plus, he used bullet-points throughout his article to underline major points and to visually break up the article in discernible chunks, which I thought was another great strategy to make his article more accessible to readers.

Evaluating a Behaviorist and Constructivist Learning

Samnath, Kayla 
ET: Educational theory and practice 
Sidney, P. F. (2015, October 17). Evaluating a Behaviorist and Constructivist Learning . Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1136&context=gera
            Author Paul F. Sidney (2015) discusses behaviorist learning versus constructivist learning. Sidney addresses the fact that constructivist learning aligns with the new common core standards. The goal is to teach students in way that will better prepare them for the future. In order to do this, real world simulation needs to take place within the class room (p. 02). With the implementation of new technology, it is key that educators learn which style will have the most impact on learners. Sidney goes into the major differences between the two educational theories.
            First he explains that the behaviorist view supports the idea that students learn the best through positive or negative reinforcement (p. 03). In other words, if a student remembers what the teacher lectured they will pass, and receive an A, whereas those who cannot will fail with an F. This reinforces student behavior to regurgitate what teachers tell them, versus them actually understanding the course content. Author Sidney asserts that “constructivist …learning constitutes more of a discovery learning aspect and aims students towards conceptual understanding” (p. 04). Constructivist theories are more aligned with the current common core standards. Common core standards want students to develop and construct deeper meaning out of course content. The goal is to have students actually synthesize the information they are being taught.
            Although Paul F. Sidney (2015) supports the constructivist theory of learning, he also understands why it is something that cannot just be implemented in the class rooms. He suggests that it is something that should gradually be injected in regular curriculum (p. 07). One major concern Sidney points out is student recall. Behaviorist theories assist students in memorization with repetition and reinforcement. It assists students in the mental storage of newly learned information. Due to this reasoning, Sidney suggests that classrooms implement both theories. This will give students the best of both worlds. They will get real world applicable experience and problem solving skills, they will still have that knowledge reinforced which will foster greater recall (p. 15).
            Author Paul F. Sidney did a wonderful job explaining what both constructivist and behaviorist theories were. As a novice to educational theories, this was a great introduction. The article introduces both theories, as well as common core. Sidney explains rather simply how both theories are necessary in order to foster higher order thinking. I like how he didn’t not completely dismiss the behaviorist view in teaching. It is important to recognize that hands on projects might not align with all the students learning styles.
            I agreed with the author in that both theories can be implemented, however, this is not something that will happen over-night. It should be a gradual change, which will give students plenty of time to adapt.