Amanda Rude


DONHAM, J. (2016). Mental scripts for nurturing student dispositions of inquiry Retrieved from

This article discusses strategies for teaching inquiry specifically  for the Teacher . Donham refers to 6 dispostions of inquiry and explains each one.  Donham also provides scripts for the Teacher librarian to model to help students habitualize these dispositions.

Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve

Andrea Phillips


In this TED Talk, Carol Dweck summarizes her research into growth and fixed mindsets. She discusses the “power of yet” : how teaching students to see difficulty not as a failure but rather an opportunity to grow and learn. She cite numerous studies that show teaching kids to embrace “yet” rather than giving up can help them achieve way beyond traditional expectations. By rewarding and praising effort and process, students will be better equipped to deal with difficulty throughout their lives. Dweck’s theories of growth and fixed mindset challenge the way we traditionally teach and create expectations for our students.

Dweck’s research has great implications for the classroom and the way we approach learning as educators. She also makes the point that we need to rethink the way we give praise in the classroom. Traditionally, we praise and reward achievement (students who get the correct answer right now). In doing so, we aren’t building kids up to become lifelong learners. This video is a good introduction to Dweck and her research. Educators can implement her theories into their own teaching practice, but also use it themselves to grow as professionals. After viewing her TED Talk, I am excited to learn more about Dweck’s theories by reading her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Ideology and critical self-reflection in information literacy instruction

Nicole Katz
Critten, J. (2015). Ideology and critical self-reflection in information literacy instruction. Communications in Information Literacy. 9(1), 145-156.

The author, Jennifer Critten, is (at the time of this article) a student at the University of West Georgia. This article was created a reflection of a semester-long information literacy course. Critten focuses her article on the “neo-Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s figurations of ideology and ideological state apparatuses as a site of critical self-reflection for students and a method by which students could become empowered to recognize themselves as not just consumers, but shapers of discourse.” Critten discusses the concept of critical consciousness and critical pedagogy as well.


I found this article to very thorough and interesting. The idea that it ultimately doesn’t matter (as much) what the author’s bias are, why they thought what they did when they wrote it, but the reader’s bias. What you (the reader) bring to the text will dictate what you take away from it and being able to see that, to critically self-assess your bias is just so valid.  Readers can easily allow their personal belief system to cloud over and interfere with what they’re reading and never really “see” what is in front of them. I rather enjoyed this article.

Graduating Students Who Are Not Only Learned But Also Learners

Posted by Karen Kotchka


Donham, J. (2007) Graduating Students Who Are Not Only Learned, But Learners. Teacher Librarian, 35 (1), 8-12.
This article provides a lot of statistics on the increasing pace of knowledge generation as a way of demonstrating that students must be taught how to learn rather than just taught content that will be outdated.  It also talks a lot about how dispositions and habits of mind towards inquiry and investigation are most important in developing the learner’s mindset and how the ibrary media program can tie into this goal.
I thought the article was a good read and provided a lot of good arguments for librarians looking to advocate for a fuller instructional program as well as providing a good review of what kind of criteria should be followed for authentic, inquiry type learning.

Dweck’s "Mindset" – Growing through Failure

Fluetsch, Christopher
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, New York: Ballentine Books.

Carol Dweck’s Mindset is almost a decade old, but it is currently enjoying a revival of interest in education circles. A number of posts on this blog cover articles written about this book, but no post has yet covered the book itself.
Dweck’s book concerns her research into how people approach problems. Dweck maintains that people take one of two approaches to problems. They either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.
At its most basic level, a fixed mindset occurs when a person believes that intelligence, ability or skill in some area is fixed, that is that it cannot be significantly changed. The person considers themselves either smart or dumb, talented or not. For a fixed mindset person, a problem is an insurmountable obstacle. A failure indicates that the person is simply not good enough.
A growth mindset individual, however, believes in limitless human potential. A problem becomes an opportunity for growth, a chance to learn a new skill or a new approach to a problem. Dweck maintains that growth mindset individuals are more likely to be successful in the long term, as they continue to learn new skills. Growth mindset people are also more likely to be happy and content, as they never feel as if a problem is unsolvable.
The recent revival of this book is directly related to the need for students to learn the 21st century skills of adaptability and life-long learning. A common phrase in modern education is “We are are teaching our students skills they will need for jobs that have not even been created.” The basic idea is that the pace of change is accelerating, and people can grow and adapt to new conditions will be more successful than people who cannot.
Unfortunately, Dweck tends to reason beyond her data. She has a potent idea with some research behind it, but she extrapolates the idea into a binary worldview, where one either is fixed or growth. Everything bad comes from having a fixed mindset, everything good from growth. She oversells her idea, ruining a bit of her credibility.

Nevertheless, Mindset has some excellent advice for helping students cope with change. It is probably not necessary to read the entire book, as a number of chapters become repetitive. However, the first three chapters and the chapter on teaching are valuable additions for anyone’s reading plan.

ET: Inquiry–Five Ways to Integrate by Julia Marshall

Sullivan, Maureen

Five Ways to Integrate
Dr. Julia Marshall

Summary: This article has been a staple of mine for the last six years when thinking about shifting pedagogy to integrate across content areas, particularly spanning art and science. The five creative strategies Dr. Julia Marshall describes are used by both artists and scientists alike in the real world, and are fantastic strategies to implement in the library setting to embrace student choice, collaboration, and synthesis of their ideas. They are cognitive strategies, that are used to communicate the creators’ ideas through depiction, metaphor, mimicry, formatting, and projection.

Julia Marshall is an Art Education professor at San Francisco State University and I had the pleasure of working with her closely on a science and art integration initiative in San Francisco public schools.

Evaluation: In thinking about the cognitive processes that span art and science, Julia offers some specific ways in which both artists and scientists are manipulating information to communicate their thinking. I highly recommend it!

Five Ways to Integrate

Grit Over Grades

Jack, Gordon
Smith, Tovia. (March 17, 2014). Can focus on ‘grit’ work in school cultures that reward grades? MindShift. KQED. Retrieved from
This is a print version of a piece that ran on NPR’s Morning Edition examining the role of “grit” plays in education.  Educators increasingly see “grit”, or persistence in difficult tasks, as a key indicator for school success.  The question this story explores is whether this character trait can be taught or not.  The article profiles schools that are shifting away from focusing on achievement and towards a system that rewards effort, persistence, and even failure.  These schools are eliminating words like “gifted” and “smart” from their interactions with students in favor of language that emphasizes a growth mindset.
Not all educators are on board with this trend, however.  Alfie Kohn argues that this is another education fad that is keeping us from making the reforms we really need to make. “The benefits of failure are vastly overstated,” Kohn argues, “and the assumption that kids will pick themselves up and try even harder next time, darn it — that’s wishful thinking.” When schools begin to evaluate kids on these kinds of character traits, we run the risk of sending the message that if you don’t have grit, you’re not a good kid.

I found this article interesting because it presents a balanced view of this topic that I haven’t seen before.  Evaluating a student’s work is easy compared with evaluating character traits like grit.  Still, I favor the shift away from emphasizing results and focusing more on process.  By promoting growth mindsets, we help students see that being smart isn’t something one is born with, but rather something one works at.  I also like the comment by Angela Duckworth, the researcher who coined the term grit. “I don’t think people can become truly gritty and great at things they don’t love,” Duckworth says. “So when we try to develop grit in kids, we also need to find and help them cultivate their passions. That’s as much a part of the equation here as the hard work and the persistence.”  Helping students develop their passions is something teacher-librarians are well suited to do. By working with teachers, we can incorporate more choice into assignments to allow students the chance to pair an interest with the subject being learned.

The Modern Teacher Librarian

Greene, Shannon


Valenzia, J. (2010). Manifesto for the 21st century teacher librarians. Teacher Librarian – The Journal for School Library Professionals. Retrieved from

An exhaustive list of what librarians should and should not be doing to be leaders of 21st century school libraries. The manifesto details different 21st century applications and considerations in “reading; the information landscape; communication and publishing and storytelling; collection development; facilities; access, equity, and advocacy; audience and collaboration; copyright and information ethics; technology tools; professional development and professionalism; teaching, learning and reference; and explores into the future (while acknowledging the best of the past)”. Also noteworthy is her list of things a librarian should ‘unlearn’, especially her thoughts on libraries traditional focus on being quiet and tidy. An inspiring list that shows the author’s commitment to constant professional development. Her criteria also demonstrates her ongoing exploration of the role of the teacher librarian and how we can advocate for the rights of students to access to technology and tools.

I believe this list could be a useful tool for a teacher librarian to check themselves against periodically. It is both overwhelming (so much to do!) and affirming (so much I’m already doing!) at the same time. This manifesto is useful not only for setting personal goals but also could be helpful in creating professional portfolios and substantiating discussions for technology decisions with administration.


The Science of Interest

Jack, Gordon
ET- Constructivism and Behaviorism
IL – Constructivism and Behaviorism
Paul, A.M. (2013, November). The science of interest. School Library Journal 59(11). 24-27. Retrieved from:
In this article, Paul synthesizes the studies of three researchers, Paul Silva, Judith Harackiewicz, and Suzanne Hidi, to discuss the significance of interest on student learning.  Focusing primarily on elementary, middle, and high school students, Paul emphasizes how student interest leads to better cognition of material.  Things that are interesting generally have three qualities.  They must be “novel, complex, and comprehensible” (p. 26).  Understandability is critically important, Paul emphasizes, and provides examples of how students interest in a challenging poem or painting was increased when given some clues to understanding its meaning.  Librarians are in an ideal position to be “interest evokers” for students, given their access and understanding of diverse material.  They can also promote interest by asking “curiosity questions” (p. 27), being friendly and approachable, and helping students see the relevance or value of the material on their own lives.

While this is a relatively short article, it contains interesting research on how critical interest is in the learning process.  Too often in the behaviorist teaching model, content is presented to students without trying to making it “novel, complex, and comprehensible”.  Teachers and teacher-librarians must consider both how to cultivate interest when designing their curriculum and instruction.  The article offers some strategies for how to do this, including a Big Think type activity that asks students to reflect upon the potential relevance of the content or skill in their own lives (which is different from asking students to describe the future utility of the content).  The article also discusses the value of social construction of knowledge and identifies the jigsaw procedure as one method to develop interest by making students experts in a particular component of the material.  This research reinforces the need for teacher-librarians to collaborate with teachers in order to tap into the wealth of materials for the into, through, or beyond portions of an instructional unit.

Play in the Library

Jennifer Brickey
ET—Educational Theory
Crow, S., & Robins, J. (2012). Play in the Library. Teacher Librarian, 39(5), 36-43. Retrieved from
In their article, Crow and Robins liken inquiry-based learning to playing in the library. They draw upon the Self-determination theory (SDT) which “identifies three components whose combination leads to motivation: competence, autonomy, and relatedness” (p. 37). In a library or learning commons setting, Crow and Robins believe that students have the most optimum environment—one that is both physical and virtual—to find pleasure and satisfaction by examining information and displaying it in a creative way. They go on to explain how “stories and storytelling” and “questing” allow students to role play and investigate. Navigating is both an effort of searching and evaluating. It’s not enough to find a sources; a student has to judge its credibility and authority in addition to synthesizing results in order to determine the best answer for a problem. Crow and Robins admit they lack data that supports their theory of play in the library; however they do recognize that play is in the “roots of human evolution” (p. 42) and by making play central in the library maybe students will transition into lifelong learners and seekers.
To me, Crow and Robins’ observation and argument for play directly links to the Big Think concept. The notion that students, with the help of teachers and teacher librarians, can explore any topic they want in the library in a way that is thoughtful, collaborative, and engaging only accentuates the concept of play. The possibilities for learning seem endless and attractive.