The Brain Science of Making

Lepine, Sierra.


McQuinn, Conn. (2018). “The Brain Science of Making.” School Library Journal. Retrieved from

A 5 point argument on the benefits of making for learning, all through the lens of neuroscience.

I loved this article as a scientifically-based argument for making as an intrinsically powerful tool to enhance learning. Hard to argue with a list of reasons based in neurophysiology all indicating how making leads to better learning. I particularly enjoyed the homunculi pictures showing a visual representation of how important various parts of our body are to our brain, neurologically speaking – as a small spoiler, our hands are by far and away the possessors of most motor and sensory neurons, and therefore really quite significant to our brains!

A School-wide Gamification Project Created by the Teacher Librarian

Gabrielle Thormann
Squires, T. (2016).  Student engagement through library-led gamification.  Library as Classroom.  Retrieved from:
This entry is an audio recording available only through the Blackboard Collaborate system.  
This middle school teacher librarian had the support and opportunity of her administration and staff to create a school-wide gamification project.  She created teams of 7th graders against 8th graders, used digital technology, specifically Edmodo to create groups for communication between students.  Stories were built in the morning with the cooperation of staff, missions and goals were set, strategy cards to assist missions, and points allotted and listed in spreadsheets.   Students were also required to turn in a paper report of their work in the games, as well as other simple assignments and activities during the game.  Squires created a video about the game, and submitted to ‘Follett Challenge’ and won a substantial amount of funds. 
I’m always interested in hearing/reading about how teachers apply theory and create projects, and so found this audio recording interesting and supportive.
Note:  Here is the link to other talks also available through Blackboard Collaborate:

Seven Surprising Benefits of Maker Spaces

Brandt, Alisa

Barron, C., & Barron, A. (2016, August 2). Seven surprising benefits of maker
    spaces [Blog post]. Retrieved from School Library Journal website:

ET – Maker Spaces

IL – Motivation

This article reveals the seven physical and psychological benefits of maker spaces in libraries beyond meeting curriculum standards.
Focusing on making brings people into the present moment giving them a break from focusing on the past or future too much. Making is physical and gets people moving, stretching, and standing, which gets blood flowing. Making is dependent upon self-directed engagement and gives people motivation to complete a task rather than having to do a required task. This means that people are learning what interests them and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. Making uses hand-based activities which gives people a deeper connection to their brain and the development of skills such as visual thinking and problem solving. Making improves mood, giving people a boost of happiness. Maker spaces in libraries create a sense of community and connection which can prevent loneliness. Making “prevents the habit of wastefulness” by salvaging old materials and creating something new (Barron & Barron, 2016).

Evaluation: We are all familiar with the ways that makerspaces in schools enhance student learning and help to meet curriculum standards. It is also helpful to understand the ways in which making, whether it is simple or complex, provides so many mental and physical benefits to makers. In a time when people are increasingly disconnected from others and from the physical and mental processes that keep humans healthy, making provides an opportunity to gain some of this back.

School Libraries and Innovation

Debbie Gibbons

ET – Understanding by Design

McGrath, K. G. (2015). School libraries & innovation. Knowledge Quest, 43(3), 54-61. Retrieved from

The Common Core Standards call for a shift to process and problem-solving. There is a movement to transition traditional school libraries into learning commons. This article proposes a model that combines both trends by engaging students in design thinking and evidence-based practice to transform a school library space. Students interviewed users of the library to develop empathy and define needs. They brainstormed creative solutions and then return to the users for feedback. Working in groups, the students built prototypes of one or more of their designs and shared them with the clients, leading to further revision. After gathering feedback from students, faculty, and the community, design groups read the latest research to identify local libraries where innovation had been embraced and visited those sites. By engaging in learning with purpose, students were motivated to become design experts. The article goes on to describe the essential learning spaces and the role of the librarian in innovative libraries.

This article explains the concepts of design thinking illustrated by concrete examples of student learning. In a school where a learning commons already exists, this practice could be applied to many other projects. It could also adapted on a smaller scale to younger grade levels. I found this article to be a good combination of theoretical and practical.

Specialized Legal Research Courses: The Next Generation of Advanced Legal Research

Gary Lui

Dubay, C. (2014). Specialized legal research courses: The next generation of advanced legal research. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 33(3), 203-225. doi:10.1080/0270319X.2014.922390

The Dubay (2014) article goes further into how law librarians can have a role in law school instruction. Law students must have a strong foundation in legal research in order to be successful in their practice of law. Advanced Legal Research courses are typically taught in Law Schools by law librarians or law library staff. The Advanced Legal Research course is a more advanced legal research course from the typical first-year Legal Research course taught in the first-year of law school. “As already noted, [Advanced Legal Research] courses have been the historic response by law librarians to legal educators’ demand for more skills-focused courses” (Dubay, 208). Since more of legal research is becoming digital, more Law schools are including a course such as Specialized Legal Research (SLR) courses, which is the way Law schools are now trying to provide experimental learning so that law school graduates are ready for real practice of law (214). How does this relate to law librarians involvement in legal instruction? Accounting the time and financial cost needed to create these experimental learning courses, Specialized Legal Research courses taught by law librarians is a way for law schools to better prepare their law students for practice of law instead of offering legal clinics. “Therefore, as lawyers become increasingly specialized and students continue to find interest in highly specialized practice areas, law librarians and curriculum committees alike may find opportunity in SLR courses” (218).

The Dubay (2014) article is a great article concerning curriculum and assessment theory of the current law school curriculum. Advanced Legal Research (ALR) courses and Specialized Legal Research (SLR) courses are ways Dubay believes law librarians can be involved in teaching of law students the concept of legal research. I think first-year legal research course typically offered in most first-year law school programs do not allow law students to investigate a variety of legal research methods. This article also does a good job of advocating for Specialized Legal Research courses in Law schools and the role that law librarians can play in teaching Specialized Legal Research courses.

Designing and teaching a course in legal research and writing for master in legal studies students.

Gary Lui

Austin, M. (2014). Designing and teaching a course in legal research and writing for master in legal studies students. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 33(4), 310–335. doi:10.1080/0270319X.2014.972219

The question of the Austin (2014) article is not whether Legal Research and Writing should be taught but how it should be taught. Legal Research and Writing is a course not just law students should learn but anyone interested in the law should learn. “More broadly, legal analysis and writing are seen as important skills to develop even at an undergraduate level to achieve a level of legal literacy that is crucial for all citizens” (Austin, 315). The debate about doctrinal versus experimental learning encompass the debate on how a Legal Research and Writing course should be taught. The article leans toward experimental learning. The typical bird units way of teaching Legal Research and Writing in Law schools is to not give feedback on what the students submit on the one final exam which makes up the whole grade for the course. Experimental learning requires professors give greater amounts of feedback but also more effective feedback on what the students’ submit. The Austin article also discusses adult learning theory. Adult learning theory should be a method of improving legal education because the theory encourages the teacher to move away from a typical teacher-student hierarchical relationship to a relationship where the teacher and students are more equals by asking about the students’ past experiences. “Therefore, effective instruction of adult learners requires the teacher to have the confidence to move away from a hierarchical or authoritarian structure in the classroom and create a more communal or collective environment” (320).

I think the experimental learning model is an opportunity for instructors of Legal Research and Writing to include the librarian with expertise in legal research as part of the instructing. Though the Austin article does not mention directly that the librarian will be included in the instruction of a course in Legal Research and Writing, I am including this article in the blog because the author of the article in actually a Law Library Fellow and Adjunct Professor with the Daniel F. Cracchiolo Law Library at The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The author of this article also taught the Legal Research and Writing course for Master’s of Legal Studies students at The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. I think most Legal Research and Writing courses will not be taught by someone with background in Library Science but definitely someone with legal training, which is why I think librarians should be included directly in the instruction of the Legal Research and Writing course.

The Relationship Between Constructivism, Discovery and Experiential Learning

Marlonsson, Snow

Splan, R. K., Porr, C. S., & Broyles, T. W. (2011). Undergraduate Research in Agriculture: Constructivism and the Scholarship of Discovery. Journal Of Agricultural Education52(4), 56-64.
Splan, Porr & Broyles (2011) describe experiential learning and constructivism as aligned. Their relationship is that constructivism is concerned with the underlying epidemiological aspect of knowing/ discovering. Experiential learning is the process by which minds engage in constructionism. Further, discovery is the link between these two ideas; experiences spark discoveries that provide the information for knowledge construction. The authors convey the importance of authentic, student led learning that is active and led by social facilitation. This article investigates the role of experiential learning prevalent in University-level agriculture programs to the mind’s ability to construct knowledge through discovery. Specifically, the article explores ways to use constructionism in undergraduate research.