What Do Students Want to Learn?

Isbister, Kathy

Educational Theory

What do students want to learn? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://teddintersmith.com/innovation-playlist/what-do-students-want-to-learn/

Summary: I found this link on the Innovation Playlist website, under the heading “Student-driven learning”. In the video, the State Superintendent for Public Instruction in Virginia details an idea a middle school Principal put into action. Students were asked to write down something they would like to learn on a post-it note. The notes were collected, and a few 30-minute blocks were set aside during the year to teach subjects students suggested such as “How to tie a bowtie” and “How to change a tire”. It was a small innovation, but a success because it opened conversations at the school about relevancy and engagement.

Evaluation: While the setting for this video is dry (a man at his desk), and the introduction is dry, it is brief and shares a powerful experiment conducted in one middle school. The speaker stresses that this activity did not have to happen frequently to be meaningful, and I think that is an important point. Students have a long memory for activities they enjoy, whether they happen frequently or not. If this particular experience is not recreated multiple times during the year, it does still demonstrate to students that they can ask for learning experiences that are personally relevant and there are resources available to provide the information they seek. While they may not always be able to have an individual lesson with an actual instructor on “how to tie a bowtie”, they can still see that this is a valid question someone felt it was worthwhile to answer, and if they have other information needs in the future they may seek out answers rather than just let those types of questions fade away.

Lamb, A. (2016). Crowdsourcing and the School Library. Teacher Librarian, 44(2), 56-60.  Retrieved from:
This article discusses the usage of Crowdsourcing in the Library and how this method can be used to teach information literacy skills to students.  Student can participate in activities that can use crowdsourcing in which they can real world information to organize information.  This can be done with interesting activities where students can group information and data in a fun and interesting way.

Love the Library: Make It a Game

Post by Lora Poser-Brown
Squires, T. (2016). “Engaging students through gamification.” American libraries. March 1, 2016. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2016/03/01/engaging-students-through-gamification/
Overview: After instituting a game based library reading and writing program, the school library attained an 80% student participation level. Since the program was entirely voluntary, the success has been attributed to the opportunity to compete, collaborate, build non-classroom relationships with school staff, and the simple please of playing a game.
Analysis: The school library made itself a relevant, enjoyable place to be by making learning and exploring the library a game. While creating the game was labor intensive, the success was well worth the effort in staff eyes. Furthermore, the improvement in school morale and quality relationships has been viewed positively by the school community.

Connected learning

Ramos, Tara


Connected Learning.  (n.d.). Connected learning principles.  Retrieved from



Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub.  (2007). Connected learning infographic.  Retrieved from http://connectedlearning.tv/infographic
Summary: The Connected Learning website provides many resources for teachers who are interested in learning in the 21st century.  The principles spell out what connected learning means for both students and teachers.  For students, connected learning is interest-powered, takes place in the context of peer interaction, and academically oriented.  For teachers, instructional design principles are also provided.  Connected learning environments must be constructed around a shared purpose for both students and adults.  Everyone is learning around a common set of interests and contributing to a common purpose as they learn.  They are also production-centered, meaning that students are actively involved in creation of digital and physical products.  And lastly, they are openly-networked so that the flow of knowledge has no boundaries and students are linked to groups, institutions, etc. beyond the school walls in their learning.  
Evaluation: I find the Connected Learning principles both exciting and daunting. When I read them, I think “Yes, yes, yes!!! This is what should be happening in schools!,” the keyword being should.  My on-the-ground experience in schools is that we are far from existing in these connected learning environments.  Teachers are bound by educational policies that encourage them to continue to be the holders of information that they must transport into students’ brains.  There have been some small shifts to these type of ideas in recent years, but teachers are still not getting the support that they need in order to become the designers of instructional experiences like those described here. Nonetheless, theses principles are very useful for teacher librarians who work with teachers and can help to build this type of learning environment for at least part of the school year.