Toward a socio-contextual understanding of transliteracy

Isbister, Kathy


Hovious, A. (2018). Toward a socio-contextual understanding of transliteracy. Reference Services Review, 46(2), 178-188. Retrieved from

Summary: This article reviews the works of many researchers to arrive at a current definition of transliteracy. There is discussion on the different ways literacy can be defined, early definitions of transliteracy where it is used to describe the convergence of multiple modes of presenting information, discussion of how this idea intersects with information literacy, and the socio-contextual perspective of transliteracy. In the conclusion, the author states, “Transliteracy then becomes a literacy of literacies, and transliterate individuals transform their literacy practices to successfully participate in the information activity systems to which they belong.”

Evaluation: I sought this article out to help me define transliteracy, and found this very thorough description of how the term can be used across multiple disciplines. For my own purposes, it is helpful to view the concept as one that encompasses using multiple modes both to discover more about an area of interest, and to share that discovery.


10-Minute Teacher Podcast: 5 Ideas to Experience Inquiry in Your Classroom

Isbister, Kathy


Davis, V. (Producer & Host). (2018, September 14). 10-Minute Teacher http://podcast (Episode 360: 5 ideas to experience inquiry in your classroom). Retrieved from

Summary: I recently found this podcast from a list of recommendations from the Edutopia blog, and I have become an active listener. In this episode, host Vicki Davis interviews Kimberly Mitchell, author of the book Experience inquiry: 5 powerful strategies, 50 practical experiences. Tips involved sharing curiosity with students by telling them what you are interested in learning more about, and encouraging students to develop open rather than closed questions (where open questions invite more thoughtful responses). One of the questions Mitchell has found especially useful is, “How do you know that?” This encourages students to share their sources and examine how they come to conclusions. It is important to note that the host discloses this was a sponsored episode and she did receive some form of compensation, but I have found her work to be credible and I felt the ideas discussed were aimed at supporting teachers rather than selling books.

Evaluation: I found this to be an engaging discussion with practical suggestions that will be easy to implement. Both host and guest are interested in supporting student learning by helping students remain curious. Curious learners have more questions, which I have found to be the basis of inquiry. The quality of questions a learner has reflects their interest in a subject, and the search for thoughtful answers encourages them to continue on their personal quests for knowledge.


What the Heck is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Van Duzee, Alyssa

ID (Inquiry and Design)

Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2016, August 11). What the heck Is inquiry-based learning? Retrieved from

Inquiry-based learning is something that can be difficult for teachers to do because it involves giving up power and control and allowing students to take the reigns. This articles breaks down the steps necessary to bring this type of design and learning into a classroom and library. It is a very basic overview, but it gives a good sense of what inquiry-based learning entails.

This would be a great article to have staff read at the beginning of the school year because it makes something that can become very difficult seem relatively easy. It breaks down the process into 4 manageable steps. If teachers were to get on board with this, it would make an easy transition into co-teaching and ultimately deeper and wider student learning.

What’s the Best Way to Teach Science?

Murphy, James


Bozeman Science. (n.d.). What’s the best way to teach science? Retrieved from

This video is the (very good) opinion of a science teacher as to the best way to teach science. His philosophy is that the best way to teach science is to “do science.” His guiding motto is: “Don’t kill the wonder (and… don’t hide the practices).” He describes wonder as the state of true inquisitiveness, when someone is trying to figure something out. He then gives a great demonstration. The best way to start teaching is to ask great questions, and to not just answer the questions for students. The presenter then communicates many of the different practices that scientists use, and encourages teachers to make these practices known to their students.

Although this video is about science, I believe it can have a similar application to many or even all subjects taught in school. It focuses on the natural fascination that we all have with inquiry, and that the suspense and journey of discovery is truly rewarding and satisfying. I still want to figure out the “wonder tube” by myself without looking up the answer!

A Review of the 2018 AASL Standards

Sasaki, Lori


Loertscher, D.V. (2018). A Review (National School Library Standards — AASL). Teacher Librarian, 45(3), p. 36-48. Retrieved from

This is a lengthy and detailed review and analysis of the new AASL 2018 standards. The review points out a few strengths, namely that the standards address inquiry in more detail, and many, many areas of concern. Some areas of concern that stand out include the role of the library in affecting learning in the greater school vision, the lack of a central role for technology, and the absence of free and independent reading. For all of the concerns, there is also a section with recommendations for “thinking ahead.”

This article should be required reading for anyone working in school libraries, whether they have tried to make sense of the new AASL standards or not. Underlying the entire review is the sense of urgency for the profession to demonstrate the indispensability of the role of teacher librarians and school libraries in a time when their existence is being questioned. The recommendations push teacher librarians to think deeply and critically about their role in learning, to imagine what learning can look like, and to create learning commons for 21st century learners.

Inquiry-Based Learning – Curriculum Connections in the Library

Clem, Katy


Stripling, B. K. (2003). Inquiry-Based Learning. Curriculum Connections in the Library. Edited by Stripling, B. K. & Hughes-Hassell, S. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Barbara Stripling (of Stripling’s Model of Inquiry fame) authored the first chapter in this book written to connect librarians and educators as collaborators in education. She is a foundational thinker in inquiry-based education, and her words on the approach are a fantastic starting point for anyone approaching the subject.

This chapter is the BEST thing I read in my research for INFO 250: content-rich, based in a history of education theory, deeply inspiring, and full of practical applications that feel manageable. Tracking it down is a bit tricky; I found a used copy of the book on Amazon for $4, and every chapter is gold. SO WORTH IT.

Intentional inquiry vision, persistence, and relationships

Chapman, Sherry


Maniotes, L. (2016). Intentional inquiry vision, persistence, and relationships. Teacher Librarian, 43(5), 8-11.


This article looks at successful inquiry projects as a collaboration between a teacher team or department and the teacher librarian. It is very forward thinking and productive as well as reflective. They all work together, trust each other and create innovative units for students.

Maniotes says, “When we see the value of each other’s expertise, such as the librarian as the information professional, we can intentionally set up collaborations that present exciting ways to learn from one another and develop our own professional practice.”


This approach of training in the PBL model and creating collaboration before implementation is a fundamental component of implementing change in a district. I think this approach is both successful and impactful, and the vision and persistence to build relationships is key.

IL-The Challenge of Piloting the Inquiry Process in Today’s Learning Environment

Emily Ratica


Lambusta, P., Graham, S., & Letteri-Walker, B. (2014). Rocks in the river: The challenge of piloting the inquiry process in today’s learning environment. Knowledge Quest, 43(2-), 42-45.

This article reviews the steps the librarians and teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools in Newport News, Virginia took to further incorporate a more detailed and thorough Inquiry Process Model into instruction. Most significantly, these educators, after putting in place an initial model, took the time to reevaluate that model, then remove and adapt that model in order to improve their students’ experiences and final results.

The most significant idea they discovered in implementing their inquiry process, and the main reason I share this article here, is the “Explore” stage they added after the fact. At all levels of education, elementary through high school, they realized that students were not engaged in the process because they had not had time to get “hooked” by exploring their own ideas. Starting with a research question, like so many inquiry processes do, was problematic because “students often did not have enough background knowledge to generate questions…many of us individually modified the model in our practices to give students opportunities to search for information on a topic before they began to generate questions” (42).  For an inquiry process to be successful, students need time to be inquisitive.  

This seems like such a simple idea, but it was revolutionary to me.  I work in high school, and I figured that most of the students I encountered as they were doing research already had a subject/area in mind when beginning.  But by allowing them time, even if it is just a little, to explore topics within a subject, I agree with the authors, it will increase student engagement and buy-in, and further develop inquiry skills.

Nicole Ogden
CO and ET

Maniotes, L. K., & Kuhlthau, C. C. (2014). Making the Shift: From Traditional Research Assignments to Guiding Inquiry Learning. Knowledge Quest, 43(2-), 8-17.
Maniotes and Kuhlthau compare the traditional research assignment framework that librarians often work in and propose a more authentic method that mirrors the inquiry process. They articulate how one visit to the library cannot cover all that students need to learn in order to accomplish authentic inquiry. The authors provide six steps to transform the research process and also discuss how the teacher librarian can convince the reluctant content teacher.

The authors perfectly capture the situation that many librarians find themselves in where they are given a small slice of time and expected to teach a whole range of valuable skills to a class in a one time visit. They provide suggestions on how to encourage teachers to partner with the TL on an inquiry process. They also provide some clear activities and steps in the research process that the TL could immediately adapt for the classroom.

I Can’t do Inquiry! I’m on a Fixed Schedule!

Litzinger, Vicki


Fontichiaro, Kristin. (2014). I Can’t do Inquiry! I’m on a Fixed Schedule! School Library Monthly, 30(5), p 49.


A very short article, yet Fontichiaro provides several sound examples of how to build inquiry into your teaching even on a fixed schedule. She suggests making it part of storytime, break the inquiry process into smaller “targeted, mini lessons,” asking “teachers to swap planning periods,” or creating a club in which students do research on “current events.”


This article was an excellent reminder that undertaking inquiry in your library classes does not have to mean a huge project for you or your students. It is so easy to get frustrated given what we have to build into our 45 minute classes which also usually includes a book exchange time. So, we don’t get our entire 45 minutes for reading and teaching inquiry. I particularly appreciated Fontichiaro’s suggestion about building inquiry into storytime where we “model active reading and questioning,” and “point students toward resources that can help them answer those questions. Ask students to share answers when they check out.” An article of very practical, and easy-to-integrate suggestions.