Problem Scoping: Design Thinking & Close Reading Makerspaces in the School

Waltz, Katherine

Topic: Inquiry & Design (ID)

Bibliographic Citation:

Blakemore, M. (2019). Problem scoping: Design thinking & close reading makerspaces in the school library. Knowledge Quest46(4), pp. 66–69. Retrieved from

Summary: The author defines what a makerspace is and illustrates some of its uses for students. She then goes into problem scoping as part of the design process, where students would define the problem, before continuing on to design a solution. The author also connects literature and literacy to the making process, as they can be connected by solving problems in stories through making. She offers different approaches that can be taken for this design practice with whole groups or small groups.

Evaluation/Opinion: As someone who is very new to almost all of the theories and practices from this segment, I had not heard of this practice, and thought it was a very interesting one that was also friendly as a more introductory article that I could also use where I am more experienced in a public library setting while still teaching me more about school librarianship. I thought others may have been interested in learning about this as well if they had not yet heard of problem scoping with makerspaces.

A Vision of What Collaboration Looks Like

Smith, Chloe


D’Orio, W. (2019). Powerful partnerships. School Library Journal 65(1), 24–27. Retrieved from:

Summary: This article from School Library Journal discusses collaboration strategies for teacher librarians/media specialists and classroom teachers. It acknowledges the challenges involved, particularly around scheduling and time commitments, but also emphasizes the value of collaboration. Librarians can build strong relationships with their colleagues and raise the library’s profile within the school and–even more importantly–students can benefit from the insights and creativity of multiple staff members working together. The article points out that library staff need to actively pursue these partnerships, reaching out to classroom teachers, making sure that projects are aligned with learning goals, and following through so that projects see completion.

Beyond these tips, the article spends most of its length discussing successful examples of long-term, collaborative learning projects in different school settings. Teacher librarians and classroom teachers worked together to create units for 7th graders to explore the the complex interrelations of systems in the human body or to support kindergartners working together to create a machine that can paint. These and other examples show that collaborations in the library setting enabled student inquiry and design thinking. These learning projects pushed students to explore, take ownership of their work, and use tech solutions to create new things.

Evaluation: I really appreciated the specific examples in this article. The strategies and tips for librarians and teachers weren’t anything I hadn’t seen addressed in more detail in other sources, but the descriptions of successful projects were really inspiring. It showed the breadth of possible successful projects that collaboration can make possible.

Four Phases of Inquiry-Based Learning: A Guide for Teachers

Heick, T. (2019). Four phases of inquiry-based learning: A guide for Teachers. Retrieved from www.

In this post, Heick gives an informative breakdown to the four phases of inquiry-based learning. Each phase is equipped with the overall tone of the classroom during each phase including teacher and student indicators. Each phase also includes appropriate questions that teachers could be asking students, that students could ask other students, and that students could ask themselves. Appropriate apps for each phase are also listed in this post. Overall, I found this post helpful to someone that is new to inquiry-based learning. The four-phases of Inquiry-Based Learning vaguely connect to the six stages of Design Thinking.

Understanding Genius Hour

Smith, Chloe


Krebs, D. & Zvi G. (2016). The genius hour guidebook. New York: Routeledge.

Summary: This book is focused on Genius Hour, a program in which a teacher sets aside a set amount of time each week for students to pursue independent and self-directed projects. It is by two teachers, one an elementary school teacher in private and public settings and one a faculty member in a teacher training program, who met online and began collaborating and sharing resources as part of their Personal Learning Networks (PLN). It is very much a product of an online community, with lots of pointers for readers to check out resources like TED talks and to share experiences with each other via Twitter and other social media platforms. In essence, the book does just what is says on the cover–it explains what Genius Hour is, and it gives pointers and suggestions for how an educator can make it work in their classrooms. It includes guidelines for introducing the concept, scaffolding the development of students’ independent inquiry, and helping them reflect and self-assess. It also includes appendixes with FAQs, more resources and lesson plans, and a reading list.

Evaluation: I really liked the practical and detailed scaffolding that this book provided. I could definitely see depending on it if I was rolling out Genius Hour in my own classroom or library space. I wonder, however, if a print book was the best format for this document–there are so many online works cited that it seems like this would have worked better as a website other format where the references could be linked.

Manifesto for 21st Century Teacher Librarians


Pamela Graham

Kasman Valenza, J. (2010). Manifesto for 21st century teacher librarians. Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from

I enjoyed this article, or manifesto, because I found it so informative. The author gives a very extensive list of what librarians in the 21st century could or should be doing—apps to use, ways to promote reading, new technologies, “modern” ways to create space and collections, ways to promote equity, etc. A really good and extensive list! I think there is a takeaway here for even the most experienced librarians.

Changing Literacies and Civic Pathways

Bagley-Rowe, Heather


Seglem, R., & Garcia, A. (2018). Changing Literacies and Civic Pathways: Multiliteracies in Inquiry-Driven Classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 57(1), 56-63. DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2017.1390335

Inquiry in classrooms enables students’ global and civil agency, as seen by Seglem and Garcia’s study of a middle school English class genius hour and student learning effects. In classrooms, genius hour, which allows students to pursue self-selected topics of study, incorporates creating and helping community; the learning fits a global setting. The New London Group notes four pedagogical elements of multiliteracies, each of which Seglem and Garcia note in their observations. With situated practice, students are self-motivated to access resources, building their risk-taking and confidence. Overt instruction, where teachers provide scaffolding as needed, allows teachers to assess any knowledge and skills gaps. Critical framing is analysis and evaluation, where students connect current learning to previous learning, considering concepts from different perspectives. Through transformed practice, students employ metacognition regarding personal learning. Overall, a pedagogy of inquiry views students as experts, relies on teacher expertise and voice, and can yield increased student confidence to try new tools or ways of learning.

Seglem and Garcia put forth accessible information in line with the incorporation of inquiry I have seen in classrooms. When students are allowed to study topics of their choosing and apply the knowledge to helping their community, students can develop agency and global citizenship. The area of multiliteracies may benefit from additional research, but Seglem and Garcia’s article highlights a pathway to shifting classroom teaching.