Teaching to the Test

Katy Golden


Shepard, L., Hanaway, J., & Baker, E, ed.s. (2009). Standards, assessment, and accountability. Education policy white paper. National Aacdemy of Education, Washington, DC. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED531138.pdf

I thought this article brought up a lot of great points because, being in the education world today, you can easily understand how tempting it is to teach based on the standardized tests your students are taking – in my case, those tests are a big part of my evaluation, so it’s important to me that they do well! However, when education policy makers are the ones deciding what’s on the test and how it’s formatted, it often makes it so that what’s being tested – and therefore what’s being taught to – is not useful knowledge nor does it involve 21st century skills, rather being rote question-and-answer trivia. This article discusses the idea of standards-based assessments, and how the accountability to standards creates pressure on teachers to “teach to a test.”

This article discusses the complications of having politically created standards, which can lead to either “overly full, encyclopedic standards” in the case of some states, and “vague, general statements” in others. The authors describe the growing movement to the creation of new standards that distinguish between performance standards and content standards, and recommend that educators be given a voice in determining standards. This was a relief to me to hear, because I’d love to hear more about educators being the ones to decide standards. In my old district, they were just starting to incorporate teachers in the development of district wide tests, and hopefully that trend will continue!

A Pedagogy of Inquiry

Pegowsky, N. (2015) A pedogogy of inquiry. Communications in Information Literacy9(2), 136-144.
Summary: This article discusses the ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015) and how teacher librarians can use the Framework to push pack against neoliberal agendas in current pedagogy to reinvent the teacher-librarian role. The article expresses that neoliberalism, which creates a false sense of urgency for changes in higher education, turns education into an economic exchange and vocationalizes education, which the author calls “trickling up.” The author further states that teaching, and librarianship becomes devalued in this economy because librarians do not have clearly defined roles. Pegowsky suggests that we move away from exclusively skills-based instruction and make our pedagogy more explicit, thus enhancing student learning and outcomes.

Evaluation: This article doesn’t provide practical applications for teaching or librarianship, as most research in the field does. Rather, it focuses on underlying ideology that has affected pedagogy and how we teach, to education’s detriment. A philosophy of education drawn out to some interesting conclusions. 
Teaching Social Studies with Video Games
Maguth, B. M., List, J. S., Wunderle, M. (2015). Teaching social studies with video games. The Social Studies, 106(1), 32-36. doi: 10.1080/00377996.2014.961996
This article highlights the use of interactive video games as instructional tools in the classroom.  Students used the game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings to build up a civilization.  This game was chosen because it could be aligned with state standards, had an easy to use interface, and good enough graphics to keep students engaged.  The teacher assessed student learning by having students write reflections related to academic content standards such as geography, trade, economics, etc.  Students were required to make connections between class discussions and the video game.  Teacher and student found the game to be a success in allowing students to practice academic content in “real world” scenario that was engaging.  The article even attributes this teaching strategy as an example of learning through play—a theory of Vygotsky and Piaget.

This article highlights the importance of information and technology literacy in our classrooms.  While this article did not highlight the role of a teacher librarian, I can only imagine how much more beneficial the outcome would have been if teacher and teacher librarian had co-taught this assignment.

School Libraries and maker spaces

Shibrie Wilson

IL- Creative Thinking
ET- Standards-based Education
CA- Common Core Assessments
IL- Media Literacy

 Bell, J. (2015, May 12). School Librarians Push for More ‘Maker Spaces’ Retrieved May 19, 2016, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/05/13/school-librarians-push-for-more-maker-spaces.html

Summary: Term “maker space” has been added to vernacular of 21st century school libraries. These spaces allow student to interact and research different things in which some schools do not have part of their curriculum’s. With the large push of STEAM- science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics has encouraged the integration of a “maker space.” There are arguments as to whether the spaces are valuable, but scientist have not conducted quantitative research to provide this type of information. Issue with integrating make spaces into schools is that some districts are formal and have not adopted this type of ideology. Districts with such mindset are concerned with creating a space in which prepares students for standardized test and providing materials in which meet curriculum for each subject area. This poses a problem for administrators and librarians when defending reason as to why maker spaces are vital in school libraries. Common researchers are developing data in which provides information as to how student are developing skills that new standards require, specifically that of problem solving and critical thinking. The largest problem some librarians have faced, especially librarian in blog is that of time. Time is crucial and there is not enough for students to develop, construct, and create a large final project.

Reflection: Enjoyed reading this article considering that this is revolving discussion in libraries. How are maker spaces vital and what type of change is being implemented from this innovative idea. A problem that I see posed are those who have a traditional concept as to what library services involves, and will not want to branch out. Maker spaces in school libraries can allow collaborative opportunities for science and math teachers, opposed to typical usage from language arts and social studies teachers.

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Is Racial Bias Harmless? Derek Wing Sue

Faulk, M
Info 250                                                                                                                                              

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Is Racial Bias Harmless? Derek Wing Sue
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/microaggressions-in-everyday-life/201010/racial-microaggressions-in-everyday-life (Links to an external site.)

Summary:Space does not allow me to elaborate the harmful impact of racial microaggressions, but I summarize what the research literature reveals. Although they may appear like insignificant slights, or banal and trivial in nature, studies reveal that racial microaggressions have powerful detrimental consequences to people of color. They have been found to: (a) assail the mental health of recipients, (b) create a hostile and invalidating work or campus climate, (c) perpetuate stereotype threat, (d) create physical health problems, (e) saturate the broader society with cues that signal devaluation of social group identities, (f) lower work productivity and problem solving abilities, and (g) be partially responsible for creating inequities in education, employment and health care.

Evaluation: An eye-opening article about the “little” things (slights) that may happen each day in the classroom, possibly, to any student. The perspective is from an Asian American’s viewpoint who speaks to what he sees going on around him and incidents that draw attention to this very real problem.

Multimedia Learning Theories and Online Instruction.

Jones, Erik


Tempelman-Kluit, N. (2006). Multimedia Learning Theories and Online Instruction. College & Research Libraries, 67(4), 364-369. Retrieved from: http://crl.acrl.org/

This article deals with some of the various learning theories and issues that arise when making an online lesson plan and presenting information to the students in the course. The key takeaways from the article are the Cognitive Load Theory and Cognitive Overload. Cognitive Load Theory deals with eliminating all redundant information that a student doesn’t really need to hear during a lecture, repetitive information, or information that is too detailed and can potentially overwhelm the student. Cognitive Overload is the process from which students get overwhelmed with too much information presented to them at once, which is essential to keep in mind as an online instructor as the bulk of what students will be doing is reading multiple dry articles on a daily basis and overwhelming them is a good way to get them to fall behind or even drop a class.
I’ve been a student at two online universities now so I am fairly experienced with how lessons, group work and homework are done for each of the classes, but not everyone has the same level of experience. Some are just now realizing the viability of an online education for those with busy lives and no time to sit in a classroom for hours on end. Understanding the various learning theories that use different forms of multimedia applications to teach students is essential to understand both as an instructor and as a student, you can never underestimate knowing how something works and how it can best be used. 

Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College

Jones, Erik


Chodock, T., & Dolinger, E. (2009). Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy: Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(1), 24-32. Retrieved from: https://journals.ala.org/rusq 

This particular article discusses the various learning disabilities that prevent students from learning at the same rate or in the same way as other students. Primarily concerned with children who have ADD or ADHD, the article focuses on adjusting the ACRL standards to be more inclusive for diverse learners. Applying their Universal Design for Information Literacy to the lesson plans and learning activities to the classroom would allow students with learning disabilities and those without to get more one on one time with the instructor, a quieter place to study, or even more time on tests or homework to better accommodate their needs.


I thought this article was personally relevant as I was branded with ADHD in elementary school and shuffled off into a special ed classroom equipped with teachers who had no idea how to help kids who learned differently, were a little more energetic than other students, had issues at home that affected their learning, or were simply bored and wanted something else to do. The Universal Design for Information Literacy I feel is a step in the right direction to help students like me who were wrongfully labeled or legitimately have learning disabilities that require them to have more time on tests and homework or who need more time with the instructor to understand and perform at the same level as other students.

Differences Between Learning and Education

Johnson, Meghan


Heick, T. (2014). Learning is different than education. TeachThought. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/learning-is-different-than-education/

Summary: Terry Heick bases his whole article around a quote by Wendell Berry: “… all our problems tend to gather under two questions about knowledge: having the ability and desire to know, how and what should we learn? And, having learned, how and for what should we use what we know?” This excellent quote is not only used to break down the differences between learning and modern education, but also how modern education needs to be a more communal process. Learning is self-directed and driven by curiosity. Education is guided and caused, a measured policy. Heick argues that education needs to be a more communal process, a process in which everyone contributes.

Evaluation: Once again, I find myself baffled for having never looked at learning and education through this lens. As many in our class are, Heick is extremely critical of current education which is based in Common Core assessments and detached community input. Common Core, then, is just a promise to the community that all students will know certain things; the burden is placed on the teachers to fulfill this promise. This is a thought that I have long had. I could say that I did not like the current educational system, but, without having a viable alternative, I was at my wits end on what else to do. I think Heick has that solution. Education has gotten a bad reputation because of Common Core, but it really can be the pillar of any community as a learning tool. In order to be that pillar, though, the community needs to be involved in the learning process. Community, in my mind, refers to parents, siblings, grandparents, local businesses, anyone who has an investment in the community and helping everyone grow. Putting the “burden” of education on teachers alone helps to create this problem.

We need to give students educational opportunities outside of their protective bubble at school. Education needs to extend beyond the classroom.

Tales of the Undead Learning Theories: The Learning Pyramid

Tales of the Undead Learning Theories: The Learning Pyramid

Jones, Erik


Archer, A. (2014). Tales of the undead learning theories: The learning pyramid. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: http://acrlog.org/2014/01/13/tales-of-the-undead-learning-theories-the-learning-pyramid/

This particular blog focuses on a learning theory that simply won’t go away no matter how much research is done to disprove its effectiveness and overall uselessness. Appearing in many incarnations since the early 1900s, educational theorists have often speculated that people learn/retain only a portion of the things that we read, hear, look at, or do. The primary flaw with this learning theory is the percentages that people supposedly retain/learn at each level of the pyramid. It doesn’t take into account differing teaching styles that play a significant part in the learning process, not to mention the different learning styles that each students has. Some students are visual learning, while others learn by doing, and others learn better in a group environment. The designers of this pyramid fail to take these differences into account which is a huge issue.


I actually like this particular article as it’s about time people highlight some of the debunked learning theories that are our there that keep students from receiving a proper education. The author of the blog is also a little upbeat and while I would consider this to be more of a rant than anything else, his opinion and research is sound and needed.