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.

Creativity & Critical Thinking

Oakes, Constance

Topic: Inquiry and Design (ID)

Bibliographic Citation:  Richardson, J. (2014, October 17). How to think, not what to think [Video file]. Retrieved from

Summary:  This is a TEDxBrisbane talk with Jesse Richardson, the founder of  In his talk, he discusses the need to stop teaching students information and to start teaching them how to think.  His thinking is that we need to teach children how to think creatively. By doing so we will be teaching students not only how to think, but how to be adaptive and how to innovate in order to solve problems.  Along with this, we need to teach critical thinking skills to teach students to be able to change their thinking and be able to be wrong which then leads to growth.

Evaluation/Opinion:  I found this TEDx to be engaging and I liked his view that thinking creatively and critical thinking skills are two sides of the same coin.  The School of Innovation is intriguing as is and I agree that this is what we need to be teaching our youth so they will be ready for the world we are leaving them.

How useful is the idea of “learning styles”?

Smith, Chloe


Toppo, G. (2019, January 9). ‘Neuromyth’ or Helpful Model? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from:

This article describes the divide between advocates and critics of the idea that different individuals have different “learning styles,” while pointing out that the theory, while popular with many educators, has been largely debunked by scientists. Toppo points out that the idea is not supported by current psychologists and educational researchers. He quotes Scott Barry Kaufman’s argument that belief in learning styles can actually be a “harmful myth,” since it encourages students to have fixed mindsets about what and how they can learn. On the other side, educators who support the idea of learning styles say it’s about encouraging students identify their preferences, not their inherent abilities. Toppo concludes by pointing out that, while the idea of learning styles is a limited and inaccurate paradigm, the larger context is that different ways of learning are appropriate to different tasks. The important thing is to individualize instruction and present information is multiple ways.

I found this article to be a clear overview of current thinking on the topic of learning styles. It is geared towards educators at the college level, but the ideas are relevant to teaching and learning in a wide array of venues.

Student Agency for Powerful Learning

Dilworth, Marianne


Williams, P. (2017). Student agency for powerful learning. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 8-15. Retrieved from

In his article “Student Agency for Powerful Learning,” Williams defines student agency, and then explores how school librarians are uniquely qualified to nurture this attribute in students. Williams states that students develop agency when they have a strong sense of personal integrity and efficacy. When students demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and feel empowered to act, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning. Fostering student agency requires a pedagogical power shift away from traditional models of education.

Williams offers some practical suggestions for school librarians to lead the way. These suggestions include encouraging recreational reading, and collaborating with students on library design. To develop student voice, students can create books or artwork that become part of the library’s collection. Having students then cite their own work gives them a sense of ownership and identity as a creator. Williams argues that using these strategies to establish a collaborative, student-centered learning environment will help students ultimately become successful agents of their learning.

I found this article to be an interesting and engaging overview of the concept of student agency. A school community that aspires to build a learning commons, must first have a strong program that builds student agency. I like that Williams makes the clear distinction that encouraging student agency does not mean that he is advocating for an anything goes educational model. Instead, he states that structures and guides must be put into place that allow student creativity and voice to flourish.

Educators, Parents Debate the Common Core

Sue, Jason


APA Citation

CBS Sunday Morning. (2014, September 14). Educators, parents debate the Common Core. Retrieved from


Despite being a federal initiative, Common Core was started as nationwide collaboration from the state level to develop nationwide standards. 45 states and D.C. initially adopted Common Core and were offered grant money in return for participation. One of the benefits of Common Core was that it raised the standards of states like Tennessee and allowed more accurate comparisons of the academic achievements rates of various states. Despite these benefits, implementation of the Common Core has not been without pushback.

Many conservatives felt that the federal government should not be dictating curriculum even if it was the states who had the power to accept or reject Common Core. Opposition to Common Core was also strong in Progressives states. One of the criticisms of progressives was that the standards that Common Core set were unrealistic; and to support their argument, they singled out have specific test questions as being too difficult for certain grade levels. Education can be condensed into a series of increased standards. While Common Core may be flawed, it was a step in the right direction.


This is an outstanding synopsis of the controversy surrounding Common Core.


Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences: Theory Integration

Gifford, Kellsie

ET – Educational Theory

Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences: Theory Integration [Video file]. (2017). Retrieved from

This video provides a dynamic look into the various learning styles and how the teacher can best adapt to each. Short, sweet, and engaging, the video gives great insights for those who are new to the education field.

I really appreciate that there is a focus on providing activities for each type of learner, which is something that I struggled with as a student in my younger years.

‘Teaching at the desk’

Goering, Patricia


Elmborg, J. K. (2002). Teaching at the desk: Toward a reference pedagogy. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2(3): 455-464. doi:10.1353/pla.2002.0050

Elmborg describes how one-on-one interactions with students at the reference desk can model the writing conference and use socratic-style questioning to lead students to finding their own answers to reference questions, learning valuable information literacy skills in the process, instead of simply giving them the answer or a list of best sources.

As a teacher librarian, I found this source to be a practical tool to take advantage of reference questions as teachable moments.

Mason, Ariella


DuNeene, J. (n.d.). 25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently. Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.teachthought. com/pedagogy/25-things-successful- teachers-do-differently/

This article lists and discusses several strategies for a teacher to be more successful. Some of the suggestions included: having very clear objectives, adapting to student needs, welcome change in the classroom, and never stop learning.

I liked this article and found it useful because it is helpful regardless of experience level in teaching. Meaning that I found it very helpful as someone who hasn’t taught, but I also feel that the things listed may be things teacher who have been in the classroom for a long time could use as well.

Inna Levine

CO-Collaboration Strategies

Subramaniam, M., Ahn, J., Waugh, A., Taylor, N. G., Druin, A., Fleischmann, K. R., & Walsh, G. (2013). Crosswalk between the “framework for K-12 science education” and “standards for the 21st-century learner”: School librarians as the crucial link.School Library Research, 16 Retrieved from

Within the school library community, there have been persuasive calls for school librarians to contribute to science learning. The article presents a conceptual framework that links national standards of science education (“Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas,”) to core elements embedded in “AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner”, the standards that guide the teaching and learning of multiple literacies for which librarians are responsible in schools. Based on this conceptual framework, the authors of the article highlight how four middle school librarians in a large school district in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States enact and expand their five roles–information specialist, instructional partner, teacher, program administrator, and leader–while they participate in Sci-Dentity, a science-infused after-school program. They observed clear links between skills, dispositions, and responsibilities from the “Standards.” taught and facilitated by these school librarians, to principles in the Framework. The authors contend that the learning of the Standards is crucial to creating and sustaining science-learning environments as envisioned in the “Framework” and argue that school librarians’ role in science learning is more vital than it has ever been.

When we let technology do our thinking for us

Anthony Devine

When reading The Shallows, Nicolas Carr referenced the work of Van Nimwegen & Van Oostendorp (2008). Basically, Van Nimwegen & Van Oostendorp show that the more a tech interface guides a user to do a task, the less the user actually internalizes and learns the task. In other words: the easier that technology makes a task, the less the learning “sticks” in our brains. Or, to use the term in the title and the term Dr. L. prefers: the more technology guides us in a task, the less ability we have to transfer what we learned in that task.

I think this has implications for education technology and for information literacy. When designing learning experiences for students, we should be mindful of the danger of having students do things that simply do not require much thinking, much internalization. And as to information literacy, we should be careful to let our social media feeds to our thinking for us when it comes to what information to perceive as valid/invalid.

Technology is fantastic, but we still need to think for ourselves.

Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.

Van Nimwegen, C., & Van Oostendorp, H. (2008). The questionable impact of an assisting interface on performance in transfer situations. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. Retreived from: