For Radical Educators and Librarians

Name: Roa, Molly.

Topic: E.T.

Citation: Keer, G. (2016). “Barriers to critical pedagogy in information literacy teaching.” In N. Pagowsky & K. McElroy (Eds.), Critical Library Pedagogy Handbook  (pp. 65–74). Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.  Retrieved from

Summary: This entire book was featured previously on this blog, but I wanted to highlight this chapter in particular. Keer reflects all the ways in which librarians must confront our limits as critical pedagogues and how we can work to rethink our roles in the air or neutrality demanded by librarians. While Keer doesn’t come to any firm conclusions, his work challenges the reader to assess critical pedagogy as a theory in contrast with our roles in the library, ways in which we can work effectively and our limitations. This chapter is essential for radical anti-neoliberal educators and librarians to better assess our roles in the classroom, library, and library profession.

Opinion: As a queer woman, I found this work very helpful. I have been interested in critical pedagogy since undergrad, and have struggled to find a way to combine my library profession with my ethics of anti-authoritarianism and liberation for marginalized communities. In fact, this ethical issue can at time be a persistent issue for me in my day-to-day at work in a public library. Keer acknowledges this difficulty and also the overall lack of research and resources that are librarian specific on critical pedagogy.

Can librarians help make “thinking” visible to students?

Summary: Ron Ritchart of Project Zero at Harvard University along with Church & Morrison are pushing the envelope on how students experience the act of thinking (2011). Drawing from Understanding by Design, (Wiggins, 2005) and yet going in a slightly different direction, the authors of Making Thinking Visible argue that teachers don’t often understand what they mean when they describe how a lesson made students “think” (2011). For these authors, “making thinking visible,” is an important strategy for being deep and specific about what we mean when we ask students to “think.” Using engaging and innovative strategies for creating environments for thinking (implementing “thinking routines”), can help students to gain understanding on a deeper and more cognitively informed level. Thinking begins by asking open-ended questions that are authentic and which also interest the teacher–questions that the teacher or teacher-librarian does not necessarily know the answer to (2011, pp. 50).

Opinion: A lot of these strategies and practices are already implicit in constructivist classrooms, which involve a lot of pondering and reflecting. That said, this book did make me pause and re-think teaching and learning. It did so because it really slows down the idea of thinking, and tried to value the process of thinking itself over the usual learning targets and goals (which even in constructivist environments educators can get carried away by). While at first glance this book might seem only relevant to teachers, it can also impact the way teacher-librarians consider using technology for the benefit of students. Can we help student visualize how they think? Perhaps you should read this book and find out. I’d definitely recommend.

Ritchart, R. Church, M. & Morrison, K. (2011). Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engaement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wiggins, Jay., Grant P. McTighe, and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. Expanded 2nd ed. 2005. Web.

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.

What are we asking kids to do? Designing research projects that ignite creativity

Van Duzee, Alyssa

(CO) Collaboration

Miller, A. (2018, March 09). What are we asking kids to do? Designing research projects that ignite creativity. Retrieved from

The term “research” is often synonymous with boring, tedious, and dull. But it doesn’t have to be that way. This article challenges people to shift their thinking and make research more relevant to students.  If we want students to challenge themselves and think critically, we need to ask ourselves two major questions when we are planning research projects:

  1. Do our assignments offer choice and autonomy?
  2. Is there a greater purpose and relevancy to our assignments?

Research needs a purpose and students need to understand that purpose. If we can keep these questions in the back of our minds when collaborating with teachers and designing research lessons, students will become more engaged, thus resulting in deeper and more critical thinking and learning.

What is the SAMR model of technology?

SAMR Model Musings

Schrock, K. (2013, November 21, 2013). SAMR model musings. Retrieved from

Kathy Shrock has an innovative method of explaining the SAMR Model. She states, “My feeling is this model supports teachers as they design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences. Along the continuum, the student engagement becomes more of the focus and students are then able to advance their own learning in a transformational manner.” Each part of the SAMR model is explained in detail and has pictures to further elucidate the model.

Understanding by Design

Hertz-Newman, Jenny


Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved May 2018 from

This is almost like a mini-class in the backwards design model for constructing courses and units of study.  It reminds me of standards based planning/instruction in which instruction is based on the goal of students mastering the standard and lesson follows from that end goal.  This site has both text and video and the main aspects of backwards design are broken down clearly and in an interesting way.  There are also lesson planning templates and ideas for assessment.  I appreciate the focus on design for understanding and critical thinking in this model.


Mason, Ariella


Hagemans, Mieke G., Van der Meij, Hans, & De Jong, Ton. (2013). The Effects of a Concept Map-Based Support Tool on Simulation-Based Inquiry Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(1), 1-24

This study observes the effects of concept maps on inquiry learning environments. Study one found that students with color coded and non-colored concept maps performed better. The interesting part was that there was no difference in completed and incomplete assignments, rather the students with the concept map were found to more often go back and restudy the areas they got wrong. Study 2 discovered that any concept map can assist learning, and that the color coding and order of learning supplement each other.

I found this article useful because it describes how the way you show the student’s what they are learning can be of equal importance to how they learned. This article helped me in thinking of how to create rooms for KBCs for the projects in this class.

STEAM by Design

Alicia Morales


Blog STEAM by Design retrieved from October, 2016.

Summary: Blog that collects stories from other schools/teachers who are implementing STEM projects. Blog connects reader to a series of links to other sites that focus on design, technology, science and content making. There are also links to other useful articles. Most of the examples are contributed by teachers working with young students, elementary level. Great show of creativity.

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.

Open Educational Resources: big opportunities in small towns

Taylor, Andrea
Schwartz, K. (2016, July 11). How Teacher-Created Free Online Resources Are Changing the Classroom. Retrieved from:

Summary: This is an amazing article explaining the benefits that can be reaped when a school is dedicated to Open Educational Resources (OER). It is centered around Discovery Middle School in Liberty, Missouri, and the drive that social studies teacher, Eric Langhorst, has to develop new and engaging learning materials. One of the most common complaints that kids in school have is that school is boring and they hate the material. Well that cry has been heard, and the past few years school districts all over the country have begun to develop new lesson plans. These plans no longer rely on the texbook, rather they use any OERs necessary to help their kids interact, engage, and thrive throughout the entirety of the curriculum. Districts all over the country work together to grow the movement and allow their kids to work together across the country.

Review: This is  great article to read if you are new to the concept of Open Educational Resources. It explains the benefits as well as includes an inspiring video that shows the benefits they can have on the students. This article also showcases the difficulties that come into play as well. Teachers develop new and amazing lesson plans, but struggle with whether or not to share it with others because (1) they do not own the materials included, and (2) they are many times not compensated for all of their hard work. Some schools realize the work that teachers put into the new curriculum and compensate them for their contributions, while other teachers continue to do this for the sake of the kids’ education. I think it is an incredible concept, one that I wish was in place when I was in high school. I love that they teach kids to utilize technology positively.