LLED 469 Learning Log 1.4

Module 9: Access to inquiry for all learners

Components essential to a successful inquiry project/unit:

  • “Range of resources
  • inquiring mind
  • was of designing or re-designing questions and instruction to engage students (inquiry model, assessment, goals)” (Module 9, p.1)

On page 2, Module 9, among the things to consider when planning and/or co-planning an inquiry opportunity is how to scaffold and support all students’ unique learning needs.  As I progress through the module, readings and discussions this week, I will be seeking further information on the scaffold and support process. It is my goal that all of my students will meet success in their inquiry process.

Donhauser et al. (2014) propose moving towards Inquiry Learning Plans that are student driven. I question how capable students are at this process unless given scaffolding by the teacher. In the description of the “Student Growth” phase of inquiry learning, “students determine how they plan to learn new information…” (Module 9, p. 3). I am thinking of all the skills that are required such as searching for resources, note-taking, recording citations, paraphrasing/synthesizing, creating a final product and I am sure that my gr. 7 students are not yet able to self-administer their own learning.  I do agree with Donhauser’s (2014) suggestion that students must submit frequent updates as they move through the process.

Tomlinson (2014) discusses the importance of understanding and knowing the students in order to effectively meet their needs. I have certainly found this true as a classroom teacher. September is always a bit rough as I try to figure out what makes each student tick and they are figuring out who I am. At the PSA Conference, one wise teacher-librarian shared how she involves herself in creating the class lists for the next school year. She mentioned how she sees students year after year and is often able to see a different side of them than a classroom teacher might.

I appreciate Style’s (1988) quote as cited on p. 4 of Module 9.

… the need for curriculum to function both as window and as mirror, in order to reflect and reveal most accurately both a multicultural world and the student herself or himself. If the student is understood as occupying a dwelling of self, education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected” (p.1).  

So true; an excellent curriculum has the capability of enabling students to understand both themselves and the world around them. Style (1988) wisely states that “all students deserve a curriculum which mirrors their own experience back to them…but curriculum must also insist upon the fresh air of windows into the experience of others…” (Style, 1988).

Dr. Lorna Williams, (2008) advocate for First Nations, Metis and Inuit learners, describes how education has the power to either destroy or to revitalize and create (para. 3). That is a humbling statement and one that I must take seriously as an educator. Do my lessons, units, conversations, assessment practices etc…destroy or revitalize? Do my lessons provide opportunities for all of my students to view the curriculum through their own experiences (as a mirror) and through the experiences of others?

The list of questions developed by the Vancouver School District when vetting resources that honor Aboriginal Culture are excellent ones to keep handy as a selection tool.

  1. “Resource Development: How was the resource developed? Were aboriginal people involved? Does the creator have authorityfor the content?
  2. Historical Events: If it is about an historical event, does it include the aboriginal perspective? Is it culturally authentic and historically accurate?
  3. Aboriginal Cultures: Are aboriginal cultures respectfully portrayed? Are the cultures shown as dynamic and complex societies, with diverse spiritual beliefs and traditions?
  4. Portrayal of Aboriginal People: Does is portray aboriginal people fairly? Does it use stereotypes and show aboriginal people as contributing members of society with diverse roles in their daily lives? Are role models shown?
  5. Language and Imagery: Are the visual details of setting, clothing, and lifestyle portrayed accurately and respectfully? Is respectful and appropriate language used? Is the resource Canadian or American?” (Module 9, p. 6)

Online sources to consult include:

I have looked quite extensively at Strong Nations but the other sites are new to me. What a fantastic resource list when researching and purchasing resources that teach respect for Aboriginal culture.

Tomlinson (2008) provides a framework of questions for teachers to ask themselves. The third question resonated with me as the word image of a “bridge” is one that I want to convey in my future LLC. I love the phrase “building bridges of possibility”

“Are we willing to do the work of building bridges of possibility between what we teach and the diverse learners we teach?” (p. 56-57)

Tomlinson (2008) emphasizes the importance of knowing your students and of building trust. As I become “student-aware” (p.27), I am more capable of differentiating learning so all of my students reach their potential. I began this module searching for information on how to scaffold and support student learning. Tomlinson’s article offers some great advice about how to increase students’ awareness of how they learn. As stated, “real learners understand how learning works. They know how to make sense of text, how to listen, and how to ask questions. They know how to gauge their work based on criteria for success. They understand how to capitalize on their learning strengths and how to compensate for their weaknesses. They know how to plan, follow through with plans, modify plans when necessary, and evaluate the effectiveness of their planning (Tomlinson, 2008, p.30). Practically, she encourages teachers to often ask students what they need in order to accomplish a specific task. Modeling this process of meta-cognition, students build a deeper understanding of the skills needed.

Fontichiaro (2015) reviews the four basic components of inquiry lesson plans as:

  1. Authentic student questions
  2. Open-ended conclusions
  3. Critical thinking and active comprehension; not regurgitation
  4. Synthesis; not summary (p.49)

I like her analogy that “Squeezed grapes make juice, but it takes time for juice to become wine. Fact-finding is juice, inquiry is wine” (p.50).  Yes! Let’s make some wine, figuratively speaking, of course.

The article by Stripling and Harada (2012) provided a clear example of how planning for an inquiry unit might look like. I especially liked the figure on page 9 that outlined how to scaffold student learning. The sample lesson plan on pages 10-11 demonstrated how to structure mini-lesson, guided practice and independent practice. This is definitely an article that I want to print and keep in an inquiry binder for future reference.

Scaffolding to support my students seems like a balancing act between devoting too much time to mini-lessons and not enough time for digging and researching. However, asking students to complete an inquiry research project without guidance is like asking a non-swimmer to compete in a triathlon. At this stage, my students will need some explicit instruction in question formulation, searching for resources/information and note-taking.  One great site that I was introduced to from Betty Chung in a discussion post in LLED 462 is www.sweetsearch.com. This site is an index of websites that has been compiled by over 50 educators and librarians.


Assessing Questions. (2009). School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(5), 2.

Donhauser, M., Hersey, H., Stutzman, C. & Zane, M. (2014a). From lesson plan to learning plan: An introduction to the inquiry learning plan. School Library Monthly, 31(1), 11-13.

Fontichiaro, K. (2015). “What’s inquiry? Well, I know it when I see it.” School Library Monthly, 31(4): 49-51.

Stripling, B. K. & Harada, V. H.. (2012). Designing learning experiences for deeper understanding. School Library Monthly,29(3): 5-12.

Style, E. (1988). Curriculum as window & mirror. Listening for all Voices. Oak Knoll School monograph. Summit, NJ. The SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Wellesley Centres for Women.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). The Goals of Differentiation. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 26-30.

Module 10: Formative Assessment as Integral Component of Inquiry

I have been trying to be much more intentional about adding self-reflection into my assessment practices. Here is what I have been dabbling with:

  • Chapter/unit science test: prior to the test, reflect on what strategies you used for studying and preparing for the test. (I am thinking of a checklist based on the strategies we have practiced in class; make a list of key terms and definitions, re-read the chapter, make notes on cue cards/flashcards, quiz a peer or have a parent ask you questions, do some of the review questions at the end of the chapter…) Then, when students get their tests back, have them reflect on which strategies were effective to help them prepare and what would they do next time.
    • In teaching gr. 7, some students don’t understand the need to study but then are disappointed with their results. I am trying to build a sense of responsibility and a greater awareness of meta-cognition skills.
    • Zmuda defines this type of self-assessment as “assessment as learning” and is used to promote reflection and metacognition. (Zmuda, 2008, p. 78)
  • Self-reflect on each stage of the inquiry process as we work through a research project in science
    • Today, I did a mini lesson on formulating inquiry questions. First, I demonstrated how Boolean search terms work as we played a game. (ie. “stand up if you are wearing running shoes AND glasses…” Change the terms AND/OR/NOT and point out how the number of ‘hits’ (students standing changes). We then spent some time researching on the World Book Online and on the EBSCO database (Explora Canada) to pre-read different topics within our larger essential question. Then, we talked about Red Light versus Green Light questions using the Assessing Questions document. Students then formulated their first draft of a question and posted it on my Padlet. I projected the questions and we analyzed which questions were Green Light (lead to more inquiry) or Red Light (stop research by answering with just yes or no). We worked as a class to re-phrase and help each other come up with great questions.
      • Students were then given time to reflect on their learning about formulating questions and the process.

Edudemic’s article and infographics: Every Teacher’s Guide to Assessment (April 2015).

This offers a clear distinction between formative and summative assessment. In addition, I liked the ideas of different apps or digital tools to use for formative or summative assessment.

The Assessment Tool Kit provided in the Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind: Assessment for Learning, Assessment as Learning, Assessment of Learning (WNCP, 2006, p. 17) is an excellent planning tool, as are the document’s Appendix 1: A Template for Planning Assessment (pp. 82-83) and Appendix 2: Overview of Planning Assessment (p. 85).

This tool kit is an awesome resource that would be very useful when co-planning units/lessons between the Teacher-Librarian and a classroom teacher.

The question that was posed in Module 10, p. 2 “how will they determine whether students have learned these things [the skills at each stage of the inquiry process]” is one I have spent considerable time pondering. I have been trying to break down the process of inquiry research into manageable small chunks for my students and trying to assess their development in these skills along the way. However, I am still looking for effective ways of measuring skill development. I used the Daily Reflection of Learning pages found on

http://librarysupportedinquiry.weebly.com/collecting-information-summarizing-paraphrasing–taking-notes.html  (North Surrey Secondary Library website: Library Supported Inquiry) to guide my students in reflecting on the mini-lessons on research skills.

Pappas (2010) describes ‘reflection’ as that which “fuels thinking rather than just acting as a collector of information”. Using writing prompts can help to guide students in their reflections and help students learn to become “independent learners who can think for themselves” (Pappas, 2010). When assessing reflections, Pappas suggests the need for flexibility and a greater focus on form than content. A great piece of advice in her article is to search “reflection assessment rubrics” to find samples of rubrics.

The title of page 3, Module 10 is “Caring for Our Students”. My goal is for all of my students to understand the material, concepts and skills taught in my class. When I notice that several students struggle with a concept, I recognize the need to back up and re-teach. Today was an example of that. We have 10 questions of Mental Math each week based on the concepts of the week. Several students really struggled with today’s questions and scored very low. I whispered to them to not worry about it as we will continue to practice. At the end of the day, however, I didn’t feel that was enough of a consolation. I don’t want my students to become discouraged and give up on math. So I will re-teach the concepts over this week and we will have a second try to ensure greater understanding. Tomlinson echoes this sentiment and the need to be committed to my students’ positive development and success. Using this as assessment for learning helps to guide my teaching as I reflect on what worked and what didn’t and what I need to re-teach or differentiate to meet the needs of all of my students.

I appreciate all eight of Cooper’s (2007) big ideas of assessment. However, I find that the following three are integral to my teaching practice:

  • “assessment and instruction are inseparable; effective assessment informs instruction
  • Assessment must be planned and purposeful
  • Assessment must be balanced and flexible to improve learning for all students, eg: oral, performance, written” (p.5)

Formative Assessment:

  • evaluating student work while in progress
  • gives teacher a sense of where students are at and what needs to be re-taught
  • gives students a chance to review at various points of their learning

I like the description of formative assessment as a “flexible mindset”. This following quote reminds me of Tomlinson’s urgings for educators to demonstrate care towards their students, in all areas, including assessment practices. “Formative assessment, like a flexible mindset, reminds students that feedback isn’t punitive, and their current level of skill doesn’t permanently define them. It redefines the teaching role so educators can say, “Aha! You don’t understand that, but we’ll get there together. Let me show you how” (Fontichiaro, 2011a, p.11).

Assessment tools suggested in the readings include: “reflection logs, exit passes, graphic organizers, rubrics, rating scales, checklists, timelines flowcharts, goal-setting plans, directed conversation and conferences, and letters” (Harada, 2010, p.14). Another idea is to create a flowchart through the inquiry process. Using Google Forms for formative assessments is suggested in Fontichiaro’s article on formative assessment (2011a). Other ideas include: “one-to-one feedback, mini-conferencing, and teachable moments” (Fontichiaro, 2011b, p.12)

“Helping young minds take charge of their own learning is the finest contribution educators can make to student success in the 21st-century world”. (Harada, 2010, p.15).

(Figure taken from Harada, 2010, p.15)

Summative Assessment:

  • occurs at the end of unit or project
  • sample rubrics can be found at WebYools4U2Use (http:// webtools4u2use.wikispaces.com)
  • checklists, written feedback, rubrics, portfolios

Questions to consider at the end of a unit when designing assessment:

  • “What skills did we teach during this project that I need to assess?
  • How much do I want to reward the process of learning (e.g., note-taking, research folders, index cards) versus the product (e.g., PowerPoint or research paper)?
  • How much am I rewarding students for following directions (e.g., giving five points for putting your notes in the left pocket of the research folder) versus their evidence of thinking?
  • How many points do I want to allot to aesthetics (such as transitions between slides, font, and margins) versus content?
  • Does my assessment actually match what I asked them to do?” (Fontichiaro, 2011b, p.12).

For future reference: refer to the sample checklist of a book trailer and p. 13 for ideas for academic counselling (creating a portfolio and resume, cover letter).


Buerkett, R. (2011). Inquiry and assessment using Web 2.0 tools. School Library Monthly 28(1): 21-24.

Cooper, D. (2007). Talk about assessment: Strategies and tools to improve learning. Toronto, ON: Nelson.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011a). Nudging toward inquiry – Formative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(6): 11-12.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011b). Nudging toward inquiry – Summative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(7): 12-13.

Harada, V. H. (2010). Self-assessment: Challenging students to take charge of learning. School Library Monthly 26(10): 13-15.

Louis, P. & Harada, V. (2012). Did Students Get It? Self-Assessment as Key to Learning. School Library Monthly, 29(3), 13-16.

Pappas, M. (2010). Reflection as self-assessment. School Library Monthly 27(3): 5-8.

Planning and Assessing Inquiry-based Learning. (2009). School Library Monthly, 26(1), 2

Tomlinson, C. A. (2015). The caring teacher’s manifesto. Educational Leadership 72(6): 89-90.

Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education (WNCP). (2006). Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind: Assessment for learning, assessment as learning, assessment of learning. 112pp. Ministries of Education: Alberta, BC, Manitoba, NWT, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory.

Zmuda, A. & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


LLED 462: Learning Curation Module #7

Learning Curation #7

Essential Question:

How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

Learning Curation Prompt: Module 7

“From the readings make note of:

  • what you think is important to sustaining collaboration and networking in the library;
  • what are the characteristics and roles of the teacher librarian as educational leader. (Module 7)

Tech tool: In keeping with trying to model web tools to use with students in the library, Padlet is a way to collect and display your online material.

My Rationale:

To practice my skills with digital tools, I chose to create a Padlet to curate my notes about collaboration and networking from the readings. I love this tool and can see many uses within the classroom. I explored its uses once before and created a Padlet of curated resources for Student Vote, a mock election program, for my staff. In my current teaching situation, I would like to give this a try in my Science 7 classes.

A. My Student Vote Padlet:


B. Communal Wall: Science, Grade 7

During an upcoming inquiry project, I would like to have a “Padlet” set up for students to add to the communal “wall” to post an Essential Question for their inquiry research. Other ideas for future padlets within our research project could be to

  • share one resource you found that may be useful for your inquiry project
  • share two key words you might use as search variables

As described in the Padlet Tutorial, I would like to try to embed this directly on a class blog or post as a link to my Google Classroom. I will let you know how it goes!

My reflections:

I used the Padlet in two different grade 7 science classes. I purposely did not set the settings ‘moderate’ the posts but allowed students to immediately write to the wall and view other’s responses. This worked very well in my first class.

Students wrote their Inquiry Questions on the wall. We then had a mini-lesson on open/closed questions and which types of questions might lead us further into research. We then looked at each of the questions on the wall and worked collaboratively to re-phrase the questions to make stellar questions. This lesson worked so well!

My second class, however, couldn’t handle the responsibility of being able to post questions without teacher-approval. After watching some students post silly things like “Why?????????” or “hello everyone”, I changed the settings so that I would need to approval (moderate) the posts before they went live. In both classes, I had the Padlet wall projected on the screen so we could watch the questions being added and could discuss them as a class.

The only problem with moderating each post was when students decided to start editing their posts with such things as changing the colour of their notes. Each time they changed the colour, I needed to approve it again. This became rather tedious. However, once we got past the ‘cool’ factor of this new digital tool, we could return to the actual content of the lesson.

Again, students seemed to enjoy the process of reviewing each other’s questions and helping to re-phrase or add to the questions to formulate awesome questions that would spark critical thinking and deeper research.

Link to my grade 7 Science Padlet:  https://padlet.com/ydewith/gtzqmgvvl8mz

C. Padlet used to post key information related to collaboration and networking from the Readings.

I created a Padlet in order to familiarize myself with how to use Padlet, how to set up the privacy settings and how to share my Padlet with others. I found this curation tool to be very user friendly and can be used in many different applications. Because of the ease of use and the flexibility of the tool, this tool appeals to the diversity of learners within my class.

I played around with the privacy settings and set a password on this Padlet so I could try out the different settings.

Tools such as Padlets would be fantastic to use in building community, collaborating and networking with colleagues or within classroom settings. I can see how tools such as Padlet could be useful in creating that sense of the library as the central hub of the school. As teacher-librarian, I am instrumental in modelling new digital tools that support learning and in building bridges between colleagues. Padlets could be a great way to share information such as book lists, research tips or to be used within lessons.

Link to my Module 7 Padlet: https://padlet.com/ydewith/module7lled462

Password:  networking

Link to my Module 7 Padlet: https://padlet.com/ydewith/module7lled462

Password:  networking  (if needed)

How to use Padlet
TED Talk:


Byrne, R. (Sept. 10, 2013). How to use Padlet. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/UuzciL8qCYM

Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: Ontario.

Canter, L., Voytecki, K., Zambone, A., & Jones, J. (2011). Teaching exceptional children: School librarians: The forgotten partners. Council for Exceptional Children, 43 (3), 14-20.

Diggs, V. (2011). Teacher librarians are education: Thoughts from valerie diggs.Teacher Librarian, 38(5), 56-58. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/875201232?accountid=14656

Ray, Mark. (2016, June 7). Changing the conversation about librarians. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/IniFUB7worY

LLED 469 Learning Log 1.3

Module 7: Inquiry learning by design and/or re-design

Traditional Research Projects are described as:

  • Little evidence of collaboration between librarian and teacher
  • Designated list of topics to choose from
  • Little choice in project presentation mode
  • Librarian pulls out books and websites to fit the clear parameters of topic
  • Reliance on ‘cut and paste’ type of research

Inquiry Research

  • Student-driven questions
  • Explores multiple points of view
  • Involved in process of selecting resources and evaluating them for relevancy
  • ‘cut and paste’ is not possible
  • require critical thinking and problem solving
  • encourage the use of ‘resources beyond the school’ (Module 7, p.2)
  • authentic and worth learning about
  • includes self and/or peer assessment

Excellent resource to encourage change towards inquiry projects:

  • Fontichiaro’s blog posts and articles, in School Library Monthly titled “Nudging Towards Inquiry”.

So, I don’t want to just re-design and tweak existing projects but want to move towards full-out inquiry design. What steps do I take?

  1. Engage students in creating worthwhile questions that will provoke critical thinking
  2. Consider the end goal (what do you want students to know, understand and be able to do); create a checklist of “I can” goals for students
  3. Use the project as a springboard for direct instruction of research skills such as how to evaluate a website, how to take effective notes, how to cite resources
  4. Collaborate with teacher-librarian and perhaps an additional teacher or specialist

Inquiry is grounded in curiosity” (Module 7, p. 4). 

I think of this each time I hear a child ask a question about the world around him/her. I so remember that stage of life when my own children were preschoolers. “Why, Mommy?”  “Why is the sky blue? Why are those fish swimming only in one direction? Why are those people looking so sad?” The questions seemed endless but questioning is a way of learning and a way of exploring.

I encourage questions in my classroom and I don’t hesitate to say, “that is an excellent question and I don’t have the answer. Perhaps you can do a bit of research and report back to us within a few days.”  I have a glass jar in my class and a stack of coloured pompoms. When a student asks a thought-provoking question, he/she chooses a pompom to add to our Thinker Jar.

Discussion Prompt:

We were asked to consider whether our unit/lesson is “worth teaching” based on the questions posed by Harvey and Daniels (2009).

  • “Is the topic potentially interesting to and engaging for students?
  • Does the topic lie at the heart of the discipline? Is it worth learning?
  • Does the subject require uncovering?
  • Does the subject connect with everyday life? Does it have practical, immediate applications to the world we live in? (p. 166)

This is a great question and caused me to really think about if what I am teaching is of value. Is it just for the immediate purpose of learning a fact and regurgitating on a test or does it have value beyond the immediate.

  • Harvey, S. & Daniels, H. (2009). Collaboration and Comprehension: Inquiry Circles in Action (pp. 169-197). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

My post to the discussion:

“I watched a movie on Thursday evening called, “Mully”. In this movie, one man has been working hard in Kenya to change the climate and the landscape of his area. He realized that the lack of water and drought were a result of the lack of trees in the desert. So, he has been re-building the landscape and changing the climate by planting trees. Mully’s Children’s Family has planted over 2 billion trees and the climate has changed. The rivers are now fuller, the rain has returned and crops are surviving. As I watched the movie, I was reminded of my ecosystem inquiry project in Science 7. As we study about forest fires, drought, floods and slides, I want my students to see how these impact situations in real life. I heard another story this morning about an area in northern Afghanistan in which the USSR had deforested the entire area many years ago. The land is now completely barren and is a dust bowl. People are desperate for water. Hope International, a non-profit agency, has been at work to restore the land by planting trees and building wells for water.

I want my students to make connections between what they are studying and researching and how this may impact the local and global world. In my upcoming research project on ecosystems, I want my students to consider the “so what” (Donham, 2011, p. 6). As described by Harvey and Daniels, a successful inquiry project is worth teaching and worth learning. I like to think of this as the “what’s next?” How will what I am teaching or what students are learning be carried forward? What impact will it have on their lives or the lives of others? Inquiry projects should be meaningful and lead students towards action.

The readings this week further encouraged me to consider the impact of what I am teaching and to challenge my students to think beyond just the classroom. I am hopeful…perhaps some of my students will be interested to take the project beyond British Columbia and research global examples of human impact on ecosystems. Wouldn’t it be cool if this research led my students to get involved in fund raising for wells and trees in Afghanistan?”

  • Donham, J. (2011). Assignments worth doing. School Library Monthly. 28(2): 5-7.
Follow up discussion post from a classmate: 

Author: Heather Romaine Date: Monday, October 16, 2017

Subject: RE: Module 7: Inquiry Learning by Design and/or Re-design

“Wow, Yvonne. I would like to be in your class!  A neat virtual field trip to add to your ecosystem inquiry unit is Cootes Paradise Marsh, in Ontario.  85 % of native plant life was lost before work was done to turn the ecosystem back in the right direction to save it.  A connection to a Canadian place where an impact was made” (Romaine, H. Oct. 16, 2017, blog post).

I dug around a bit to see if I could find some resources related to this virtual field trip.



(in looking up some details, the information that would be presented during this virtual field trip sounds perfect with my inquiry unit, however, the cost is $130. Something local may be more worthwhile.)

Further Notes and Thoughts on the Readings:

Donham (2011) encourages educators to consider both the “so what” of the concept driven projects and the higher order skills required (p.6). By completing the unit, students would develop skills of “analysis, synthesis and evaluation” (p.6).

In recent discussions with colleagues, we have debated the use of technology in classrooms; to what extent is it lending to higher order skills or is it a distraction? I appreciate the following quote:

“While educators feel pressure to integrate technology into instruction, technology should not be a distraction from deep learning, but rather an enhancement. Technology can decorate an otherwise cognitively simple task and take time away from the deep learning that should be our priority” (p.7).

I remember spending hours and hours as a child simply making and creating. Our Barbie dolls always had new “furniture” made out of such things as cereal boxes and empty spools from thread. Whatever we didn’t have, we made. Thus began my journey into ‘making’. It does seem to be a lost art in today’s culture of consumerism and of shuttling our children from one organized lesson to another.  I love the maker movement as it encourages creativity, innovation, tinkering and authentic research skills.

In my school, we are going to attempt something new as part of the Applied Design, Skills and Technology curriculum. Our gr. 6 & 7 students will be divided into 7 or 8 mixed groups to rotate through different modules. At the end of November, we plan to host our first series of modules which will run on two days from 10:45-2:45. In those six hours, we will teach a few basic skills, design a project and spend time ‘making’.  As the future teacher-librarian, I am heading up this venture of collaboration which includes four grade 6 & 7 teachers, the Development Director, the IT support person and the vice principal. In addition to my role as coordinator, I am in charge of the Textiles Module.

As part of the design phase, I want to challenge my students with a real-life problem. The Society Task Force to End Homelessness in Burnaby collects small toiletry bottles (you know, the ones you get at a hotel) and then distributes them to those in need. I invited the Director, Wanda Mulholland, came to my class in June. She presented us with a challenge; to collect toiletries and then package them into small kits.


So, my idea is to design a sack that is washable, reusable and can be used to hold these toiletry items. I was thinking of something similar to a lunch bag closed with a button or Velcro.

As I am totally supportive of the maker space movement, I spent some time digging around articles on this topic. I began with:

Fontichiaro describes a maker activity as one that “transforms materials: bulbs into circuits, code into games, yarn into crochet. We help students develop skills and techniques while avoiding projects with prescriptive instructions and same-product-for-everyone” (p. 48).

On Saturday, I went to a local fabric store to see if I could find a suitable (and easy) sewing pattern. I left disappointed as I didn’t see anything that could be suitable for this project. On Sunday, I scoured some different websites to see what I could find. I started with the sites listed in Fontichiaro’s article. (makezine.com, diy.org, or instructables.com)

I dug deeper and came up with a few ideas. I got a bit side tracked and excited with the additional possibility of sewing mini grab and go snack bags. Wouldn’t it be cool to introduce something like this to my module group and have them create little sacs as a fundraiser? Perhaps we can raise additional money to donate to the Society to End Homelessness. Hmmm…one idea leads to many!

Fabric snack bags and lunch bags:





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ks7sfeZ1Gk (this is a great one!)


Pentland reminds me to reflect on my research projects and consider if they require students to think critically and to interact with the material. Time, student choice and questioning are important elements when planning a successful research project. In collaboration with the classroom teacher, carefully allocate time for introducing/brainstorming, conducting research, working on the product and then presenting in small groups (Pentland, 2010, p.10). Giving students choices in terms of the topic, type of project and even the audience helps to engage and motivate students. A successful research project is one that requires students to seek answers that involve critical thinking.

Wiggins and McTighe (2012) offer another way of planning and designing a unit. They suggest working backwards by identifying the desired results, determining the assessment evidence, and then planning the learning experiences and instruction accordingly. This reminds me of how we establish a mission and vision statement for our school. We first think “what skills, attitudes and knowledge do we want our students to have by the time they leave our school?” Then we consider the question, “how will we know they have achieved this?” and finally, “how do we move our students from where they are to where we want them to be?”

On p. 4, an example essential question is given that relates to my inquiry unit in Science 7. To bring students to a deeper understanding of how “the geography, climate and natural resources of a region influence the culture, economy and lifestyle of its inhabitants” consider the question: “How does where we live influence how we live?” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2012). When planning the assessment and learning activities, the authors state the importance of including all three types of goals: transfer of learning, meaning making and acquisition of content (p. 6).

Zmuda’s (2013) article reinforces that the success of library programs depends on the following criteria:

  1. It is a space truly owned by the learners.
  2. It is a space grounded in relationships
  3. It is a space where everyone is a “maker”— someone that moves through the dynamic cycle of problem-solving, creation, and failure.
  4. It is a space where “information overload” doesn’t exist.

I appreciated the focus on the learner. Zmuda reminds me of the importance of developing relationships with the learners and of seeing the immense potential in each student.

The following quote jumped out at me:

“Many educators continue to train students to live in a predictable world. They are training students to:

  • compartmentalize one discipline at a time.
  • see knowledge as static.
  • focus on getting the “right answer.”
  • function as individuals given the nature of how we evaluate learning” (p.10).

I continue to challenge my students to “be flexible” in their learning, both in their day to day planning and in their expectations of themselves and others. Flexibility and adaptability are key skills for healthy and balanced individuals. As McTighe phrases it “what we want students to be able to do when
they confront new challenges—both in and
outside of school” (p.11).

The Year of the Learning Commons has excellent resources, examples and inspiring stories to help guide my school through the process of setting up a Learning Commons. I sent this link to my Vice Principal to check out.

Walter’s “50 Ways to love your library” is a great resource! In looking through, I chose my favourite top ten that I would like to start with in my future library. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Announce the winner (#22): celebrate the annual children’s books awards in January
  2. Build a portfolio (#3) of the significant effects my library
  3. Collaborate with teachers (#5)
  4. Celebrate special days (#8)
  5. Build a community of readers (#11) through book club parties and storytelling sessions
  6. Extend my program (#19) by developing a user-friendly library website
  7. Recruit volunteers (#20) encourage student leaders
  8. Tell a digital story (#39) give students opportunities to compose and share their stories with a global audience
  9. Read for pleasure (#47) cultivate a love of books with the students
  10. Poll my users (#46) survey students about their reading preferences and suggestions for new books (Walter, 2008).


Donham, J. (2011). Assignments worth doing. School Library Monthly. 28(2): 5-7.

Ekdahl, M. & Zubke, S. (Eds.) (2014). From School Library to Library Learning Commons: A Pro-Active Model for Educational Change. Vancouver, BC: BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA).

Fontichiaro, K. (2009). Nudging toward inquiry – Re-envisioning existing research projects. School Library Monthly 26(1): 17-19.

Fontichiaro, K. (2014). Nudging toward inquiry – Makerspaces: Inquiry and CCSS. School Library Monthly30(6): 48-49.

Fontichiaro, K. (2015a). Nudging toward inquiry – Framing inquiry with scenarios. School Library Monthly 31(3): 50-51.

Fontichiaro, K. (2015b). Nudging toward inquiry – Building inquiry understanding with colleagues. School Library Monthly 31(5): 49-51.

Pentland, C. (2010). Nudging research toward critical thinking. School Library Monthly 26(10): 10-12.

The Year of the Learning Commons. (April 2015-May 2016). Celebrating the transformation of school libraries and computer labs into learning commons. [blog]. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/yearofthelearningcommons/home

Walter, C. (2008). 50 Ways to love your library. Saskatchewan School Library Association. Retrieved from https://bctf.ca/bctla/pub/documents/libraryprogram/50%20Ways%20To%20Love%20Your%20Library_cwalter_fall08.pdf

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2012). Understanding by Design FrameworkASCD.

Zmuda, A. (2013). CCSS (Common Core State Standards): A window and fresh air for learning. School Library Monthly 29(4): 9-12.

Module 8: Driving inquiry with questions

When I encourage students to develop their own questions about the topic we are studying, the learning is much richer. They become motivated to seek answers. I feel that we move from spoon-feeding (of knowledge) to a smorgasbord (constructing knowledge).

When teaching primary, I intentionally taught students how to ask a variety of questions. We called these “green, yellow or red level questions”. Through Literature Circles, my students became quite adept at formulating thought-provoking questions. In the intermediate grades, I found the Question Formulation Technique to be very effective. The Right Question Institute has fantastic resources available to help guide students through this process. http://rightquestion.org/education/

Questions formulated by the students leads them to pursue “things worth knowing” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005).

  • Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Chapter 5, “Essential Questions: Doorways to Understanding?” Understanding by Design(pp. 105-125). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

My Thoughts on the Readings:

  • Koechlin, C. and Zwaan, S. (2007). Power up your inquiry questions. Q Tasks: How to empower students to ask questions and care about answers (p.73). Markham, ON: Pembroke.

This chart is an excellent resource to keep handy for my students when formulating their inquiry questions. I would like to practice with my students by introducing different “hooks” and having them write questions from the different categories (questions that focus or look for relationships).

  • Wilhelm, J. D. (2012). Essential questions. Scholastic Instructor 122(3): 24-27.
  • Wilhelm, J. D. (2014). Learning to love the questions. Knowledge Quest 42(5): 36-41.

Wilhelm (2012) defines essential questions as those that “frames a unit of study as a problem
to be solved…[and] connect students’ lived experiences and interests to disciplinary problems in the world. And it should connect what they learn back to the real world, where they can put their new understandings to work” (p.25).  I appreciate Wilhelm’s approach in guiding students through process rather than focusing on the product. The questions inspire the product rather than the product dictating the type of research one must find.

During the process of digging deep into one’s questions, students may need to learn strategies such as interviewing, narrative or comparison writing. The learning becomes authentic as there is a purpose served.

  • Green, J., & Fontichiaro, K. (2010). Using Picture Books to Jump-Start Inquiry in Elementary Learners: “The Tiny Seed”. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 6-7.

Using a chart as suggested in this article is a great idea during the hook part of an inquiry lesson. I like how students first record what they think they know and then conduct some research to find new learnings. Through the process, they can move their sticky notes to “what we learned” or to “misconceptions”. This could be handy during a read aloud in the library.

  • Fontichiaro, K., & Green, J. (2010). Jump-Start Inquiry: How Students Begin When They Don’t Know. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 22-23.

To build better questions, Fontichiaro suggests the following:

  1. Build prior knowledge (with picture books, letters, poems, piece of writing, image…)
  2. Scaffold with the four quadrants (“what we think we know”; “questions”; “what we learned” and “misconceptions”)
  3. Read a well-chosen text or conduct some research
  4. Record additional questions and learned facts/misconceptions
  5. Report their learning
  6. Reflect on their learning (through a Google Docs, exit ticket etc…)

 In preparation for an upcoming field trip, I wanted to put questioning to the test and work to make my lessons worth learning so that my students are impacted beyond the immediate. I described my lesson in a discussion blog post on Oct. 24, 2017. (LLED 469)

“In November, I am taking my classes to the Nikkei National Japanese Museum in Burnaby. The exhibit is focused on the Japanese internment camps in BC during WW2. This is not a topic that many of my students ever heard of. I started off using the Question Formulation Technique and brainstorming on questions on the statement “Canadians judge each other based on their differences.”  The students came up with fantastic, thought provoking questions such as 

“Why do they judge? Why is it only white people are racist? What good results do they get from judging? Why do people think it is okay to judge? Why are we racist? Why just Canadians? Is this based on ethnic differences or cultural differences? Does it make one feel powerful? What kinds of differences do they judge on? Do other countries also do this? Did prime ministers or presidents talk about racism?”

(in this technique, we don’t analyze the questions at this first stage but use them to prompt our thinking)

I then showed them the first of these video clips and then the students wrote their thoughts. I then showed the last 2 video clips and they could add to their writing. Students were thoughtful, reflective and admitted feeling shocked and saddened that this went on in Canada.  I wish I had a bit more time to reflect with the students but the bell rang. So, I will continue next lesson following Fontichiaro’s advice of researching and then changing our questions to “misconceptions” or “Things we have learned”.

Teen Kids News. (Dec. 7, 2016). What ere the Japanese Internment Camps?. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Q_7TJ34Nphg

Historica Canada. (Mar. 21, 2016). Japanese Canadian Internment. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/VmXX6Jz5wsE

sjaydub7. (June 7, 2007). Canadian Japanese Internment Camps. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/8mqSfnZ7D2I


A professional development book on my MUST READ list is:

Rothstein, D. and Santana, L. (2011). Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions


Learning Curation Prompt #6 (LLED 462)

Learning Curation Prompt #6

Essential Question:

  • How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

Prompt from Module 6:

“Build your digital toolkit: This week’s prompt is to begin to collect (curate) effective online tools that you can use later for both your students and the teachers you will work with. Begin with the Mediasmarts site, there is a wealth of information here. And then explore out. They can be demos, games, presentations, youtube clips, websites, online commercials, anything that inspires you in your teaching and learning of digital and media literacy. You can organize and present your collection in whatever way you wish.” (LLED 462, Module 6)

Considering my essential question, I see my role as a curator of resources for both students and teachers. These curations could be hosted on a school website or shared by teachers and students for individual units.

While watching the Symbaloo tutorial, I began to envision all the possibilities with this curation tool. The first task that I would like to try is to create a Symbaloo page for my upcoming Science7 Inquiry Unit. Then I would like to curate a list of tools that teachers may find useful when teaching digital citizenship, as well as digital tools to use in class.

I will jot down my journey through this process.

I began with a closer look at:

I appreciate the detailed list of characteristics essential for students and the subset of learning targets for grade levels. This will definitely be handy to keep in the forefront of developing a scope and sequence for K-12 digital literacy.

I then took a look at the lesson plans available on the University of Texas website. Wow, I love it! What a great resource to share with teachers.

As I had just been working with my gr. 7 class on a unit on creating Prezi presentations about digital citizenship, this one caught my eye. I appreciate the suggestions to use class notes and to visually categorize each note with a label. Through the process, students are creating a free form mind map. I think this process would have been helpful in my own class so students could have a paper version of their Prezi categories.

lesson plan using Prezi to create outline

As I use Google Classroom quite extensively in my gr. 7 classes, the following also intrigued me as a way to collaborate student responses. My question, though, was I wondered if some students may not actually complete the assigned task but take the easy route of just mimicking what others wrote. Is there a way for students to add to the spreadsheet without viewing others’ responses until the end?

lesson plan to use google drive for collaboration

These two are similar in that wordless or word clouds are used as a method for generating search terms. I recently introduced word clouds into my class and the students enjoyed the visual way of analyzing their information.

wordle tool lesson plan

lesson plan to use word clouds to generate search terms

What a cool idea to use images to stimulate discussions on digital citizenship and digital literacy. I especially liked the suggestions to have an image projected and have students write a journal about the image prior to a discussion and to host a gallery walk with images scattered around the classroom. Within the blog post, Mattson has curated a list of images to use.

Using images for Discussion Prompts on Digital Citizenship

This is a very timely site to find as I am in the midst of teaching digital literacy to grade 7 students. A ton of helpful lessons and resources can be found on this site and the best is that the lessons are geared for Canada.

My curation process:

  1. I created a free account with Symbaloo and added resources to fit with an upcoming inquiry research project in Science, grade 7.

Since I already had the links ready, it was quick and easy to set up my Symbaloo page. I checked off the option to “share privately” using a link and then I tried using the option to share with Google Classroom. The link with a copy/paste didn’t seem to find the page.

Science 7 Sample Curation #1 So, I had to go back and change the options to share publicly and get the new link below.

Symbaloo for Science 7 Inquiry Project


However, when I shared through Google Classroom, I was able to set up an announcement for my class that would take students directly to the Symbaloo resources. When I went in through this option to double check what my students would see, I was disappointed to see many ads scattered throughout the page, as well as additional Symbaloo gallery pages at the bottom. These were listed as “Symbaloo-ers that viewed the webmix above, also viewed:…”

I felt that this was false advertising as I had just created this gallery mix and there was no way that anybody had yet viewed my gallery. I would have preferred not to confuse my students with the additional gallery options. I will demonstrate to my students what they should focus on.

  1. I then created a Symbaloo gallery for tools to use when teaching digital citizenship, as well as digital tools that I have tried or been introduced to. I love this easy to use curation site. I will definitely be sharing this tool with my colleagues.

Gallery for Colleagues: Digital Tools


Learning Curation #4 (LLED 462) Due: October 29

Learning Curation Prompt

Essential Question:

  • How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

“Take a resource you really like and find multi-modes of text, forming a short collection. It can be any combination or grouping (picture book, graphica, novels, digital content, video, web tools, etc.). Tie your grouping together with a short rationale of its theme, big idea, the literacies it addresses and what you can do with the resource.”  (LLED 462, Module 4)

One of the roles that I can play as the teacher-librarian is a curator of resources that would be useful for teachers and/or students. As this will be a new school, there is not yet a pattern or set way of curating resources. So, I began to reflect on what I would find most helpful as a teacher or a student.

As the curriculum hub of the school, what could this look like? How would I organize the resources for future units?

And so…began my quest for this learning curation.

My Curation Process

Topic: Food Chains (including roles of consumers and producers within an ecosystem)

Curriculum Tie: Grade 7 Science within the Big Idea:

Evolution by natural selection provides an explanation for the diversity and survival of living things.


As a small part of our study on changes within an ecosystem and the survival needs of organisms, I wanted to come up with a creative way for students to demonstrate their learning of food chains and the impact when a food chain is disrupted.

As reviewed in Module 4 (p.1), it is important to include multi-modal literacies such as written texts, visual images, graphic elements, hyperlinks, video clips, audio clips, and other modes of representation within my curated list. I appreciated the reminder within this module to view “literacy as the ability to interpret creative forms of communication that combine visual, written, digital, and oral texts”. (Mod. 4, p1) Teaching students how to decode and interpret various forms of communication and how to express their understanding in multi-modes is important. These skills “necessary for producing and consuming multimodal texts requires readers to navigate, design, interpret, and analyze texts in more complex and interactive ways” (Serafini, 2012, P.26). In this role, students will become more proficient “navigators (and code breaker), interpreters, designers, and interrogators” (Serafini, 2012, p.27) as they interact with and compose with images, sounds, videos and print. (Grisham, 2013).

I wanted to deviate from the traditional modes of presenting information (paper posters or hand-drawn food chain). So, I challenged myself and my students to use digital tools to create a multi-modal presentation.

To gather the resources:

  1. I searched through various online sites including com, Shelfari.com, and LibraryThing.com
    1. com was very helpful. I searched food chain picture books. www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/food-chain
  1. I then searched my public library to locate the books recommended to find my ‘perfect picture book’ to use as my hook
  2. Combed other websites and resources
  3. Created a list of resources for students to use
    1. Pictures and images (websites for free pictures)
    2. Picture books
    3. Links to videos about food chains

To curate my list, I created a word document and posted it on Google Classroom for all my students to access.

Print Resources:

Picture Books

Craighead, J. (2008). The Wolves are Back. New York, New York: Dutton Children’s Books.

Godkin, C. (1993). Wolf Island. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Reynolds, A. (2013). Carnivores. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books LLC.

Graphic Non Fiction

O’Donnell, L. (2016). The world of food chains with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science). Minnesota: Capstone Press.

Digital (oral) Resources:

Crash Course Kids. (April 21, 2015). [YouTube video]. Fabulous Food Chains: Crash Course Kids #7.1. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MuKs9o1s8h8

Free School. (Sep. 23, 2016). [YouTube video]. Food chains for kids: food webs, the circle of life and the flow of energy. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/hLq2datPo5M

Games4Kids. (July 12, 2016). [game]. Food Chains and Food Webs. Education video game for kids. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/h3leiLaaMnA



In addition, the students would have access to our school library and the host of nonfiction texts on the organisms that each chooses to represent in the food chain.

What will we do with these resources?

First, I will read the Wolf Island and The Wolves are Back to the class as read a-louds. The students will then share their thoughts in small groups using a “place mat” format.

Questions to think about as a group:

  • Describe how food chains play a role in restoring balance or causing an imbalance.
  • What possible causes can you think of that results in an imbalanced ecosystem?

Provide time for students to explore the various resources about food chains. Students will complete an Exit Slip by sketching an example of a food chain and defining the roles of producer and consumer.

Then, explain the group activity. As a group, sketch out a food chain. Each member of the group will take responsibility for one link of the chain. As that role, each member will write a short script (2-3 sentences), find an image online (of the animal), and use Chatterpix Kids app on the iPads to create a short voice recording.

As a group, the voice recordings will be linked together using Explain Everything app to create a visual food chain.

My rationale in using these two apps is to introduce my students to alternate forms of presentation and to build the skills needed to navigate, interpret, design and interrogate.


Well, the lesson didn’t go exactly as I had planned. I had an IEP meeting to attend right during my first science block. So, the TOC enjoyed reading the “hook” picture book after I explained the project criteria, goals and resources. When I returned to the classroom, the students were excitedly researching the organism they had selected.

I had created a sample of an orca speaking using Chatterpix Kid to show the class as an idea of where they were headed. However, when I attempted to mirror the iPad to my projector through AirPlay, it didn’t work. So, I had to quickly think on my feet; call the class to my reading corner and show the class using the iPad.  After school, I contacted my school’s IT manager and he came first thing the next morning. As it turned out, the iPads needed to be updated and the AirPlay program needed to be reinstalled on my laptop. Ideally, I would have tested it out last week, but I simply ran out of time and needed to take home the iPad over the weekend to create my sample. (this was the first time this school year to take out the iPads)

The students continued during science block the following day. This didn’t go quite as smoothly as before. A few of the students were very distracted by the iPads and began taking photos of classmates and using the app to make the photos speak. Yikes, I needed to re-convene the class and explain how the iPads are tools for learning and a creative way to display their knowledge and not a toy to distract their peers or themselves.


Grisham, D. (2013). Love that book: Multimodal response to literatureThe Reading Teacher. 67(3), 220-225.

Serafini, F. (2012) Reading multimodal texts in the 21st century. Research in Schools. 19(1), 26-32.

Serafini, F., & Youngs, S. (2013). Reading workshop 2.0: Children’ literature in the digital age. The Reading Teacher, 66(5), 401-404.

Digital Tools:

Chatterpix Kids app

Explain Everything app

LLED 469 Learning Log 1.2 Modules 5 and 6

Module 5: selecting resources for inquiry

Module 5 begins with a question: “Where are you on the Continuum for Change?”

This started me thinking as I reflected on the range from “I am just surviving” to “want to work on a new unit together”.  I connected with the statement “I am always looking to try new ways to engage kids with learning” (Mod. 5, p.1) and describe myself as one who is ready and willing to collaborate and feeds off the sharing of ideas with others.

I admit that some of my crazy ideas work out better than others, but I explain to my students that we are on a journey for learning and that we are like scientists; some experiments work and some need tweaking. I wonder where my students (gr. 7) or their parents would place themselves on this continuum for change.

The following links I want to keep handy for future personal growth and learning:

(I admit that I then got “lost” exploring these two sites. Many great resources to support me teaching!)

Copyright Issues

In reading through Module 5, it was a good reminder for me that I cannot share services through the public library with students. I have not yet introduced my students to the various resources and data bases available on the public library websites but I have thought about it as it was discussed in a previous LIBE course (Module 5, p. 2). I will be sure to insist that students come with their own cards and then we can proceed from there.

As I was busy planning a lesson for Applied Design, Skills and Technology (gr. 7) on digital law, the issue of copyright was forefront in my mind. I got rather lost digging through various resources, which I wrote about in my 1.1 Learning Log under Module 3. My students are continuing their research on what fair use, creative commons, copyright, and public domain mean and how does it apply to them as they create a Prezi to compile their information.

Thought Connections with UBC work and my current classes:

Last week, in Science 7, we talked about Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the Aboriginal perspective on the environment/ecosystems. It was interesting to compare a scientific approach of reason and “proof” with the Aboriginal “ways of knowing”. When I was reading the modules and the readings for this course, I connected with how learning is to be “emergent, collaborative and constructed” and through an approach that offers choice (Module 3, p. 3). This emergent, collaborative learning approach reminded me of the Aboriginal ways of knowing. As teacher librarians and educators, it is a privilege to approach learning with this kind of mindset.

My Thoughts on the Podcast “Challenging Practices”

  • Beaudry, R. and G. Chaddock-Costello. (2016).  Challenging Practices: Podcast with 2016 Recipients of the Canadian Library Association’s 2016 Winners of the Award for Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada.  UBC.

Advice for teacher librarians in dealing with issues of censorship and intellectual freedom:

  • be aware of policies for district weeding and selecting resources
  • don’t act alone; garner the support of others
  • follow district and federal protocol
  • know who you can contact within locals and districts for support and help
  • consider the differences between “classroom strategies” and “library practices” (ie. ‘levelling of books’)

Nurturing Relationships with teachers and students:

  • take time to meet with teachers and work together to develop programs  (ex. Program of transition literacy: train high school students on how to use university libraries; discern resources; selecting resources)

I am not aware of any challenge policies at my independent school. Unfortunately, we do not have a formal policy and procedure manual or document for our school. I can definitely see the wisdom of having one in place before a situation were to arise. To investigate further into this, I decided to dig around and look at what policies or procedures from other school districts have in place.

Surrey District Library Handbook: (2007) (Section 3.6 and Appendix 3) when a resource is challenged, the first step is to complete a detailed form with copies sent to the principal, to a member of management responsible for library resource and to the person issuing the challenge.

New Westminster School District Library Handbook: (2011) The rationale for their policies and procedures regarding challenged materials are clearly outlined.

“The goal of the School Library Resource Centre is to provide materials with broad and varying viewpoints to help students to develop critical thinking skills and become lifelong learners. Our libraries support the “Statement on Intellectual Freedom” from the British Columbia Library Association and the Canadian Library Association. The libraries also support the “Students’ Bill of Information Rights” adopted by the Association of Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.”

The procedures include the following steps:

  1. informal meeting with librarian and the individual questioning the resource to determine the nature of the concern
  2. individual is advised to submit a formal written request that the resource be reconsidered
  3. principal receives request and attempts to resolve the matter at the school level; if not possible, the matter proceeds to the School District staff.
  4. During the process of reconsideration, the material will remain in circulation. The material will only be removed when the final judgment is made. (p. 53)

Additional Thoughts on Readings:

ERAC document:

This document is an excellent reference to use when selecting resources. I would highly recommend that every teacher-librarian has a copy of this resource on his/her shelf. Sections that I would highlight include:

  • needs of various learners: I appreciate the sections on what to keep in mind when selecting resources for the various learners within your community. (Aboriginal Education, Gender Equity, Multiculturalism, French, ESL, Students with Special Needs…) (p.12-19)
  • checklists to use as guides for selecting resources to match your curriculum (p. 21-29)
  • social considerations criteria to select resources that will “support students’ social development…and promote positive social attitudes and respect for diversity and human rights” (p.38). (p. 38-41; 55-58)
  • checklists to use when evaluating videos, novels (p.42-52)
  • roles of various personnel (p. 62-66)
  • Appendix 3 and 8: policies and procedure regarding challenged materials (p.131-133; 140-142)
  • Appendix 5: Websites to help in the process of evaluating and selecting resources (p.136)

I learned through this module that ERAC offers a 2-4hour course for teachers and teacher-librarians about the implications of copyright of materials and technologies in schools and classrooms.

Hay and Foley’s (2009) article outlines the various roles of teacher-librarian, how to build student learning through the resources and services and to build ‘capacity or provide online and digital resources’ (p.18). I found it an excellent guide for what programs and services a library could include to promote student learning. I was inspired by the following statement, “…the real role of teacher librarians is one of instructional intervention that moves students beyond information seeking and helps them to ‘transform found information into personal knowledge’ (Hay & Foley, 2009, p.18)

Zmuda & Harada (2008) has some valuable points to note about the changes needed in the role of the teacher librarian and the library collection due to the transformation in teaching, to shifts in population demographics and to the information explosion. In addition, the role of the teacher librarian is to work alongside educators to design curriculum and instruction to meet the learning needs and learning styles of the net generation (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p.112). As part of meeting these needs, a teacher librarian and teachers need to guide students on how to become “thoughtful and successful users of information technology” (Zmuda & Harad, 2008, p. 109). I also appreciated the list of criteria on page 109 to consider when evaluating digital resources.


Beaudry, R. and G. Chaddock-Costello. (2016).  Challenging Practices: Podcast with 2016 Recipients of the Canadian Library Association’s 2016 Winners of the Award for Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada.  UBC.

Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium (ERAC). (2008). Evaluating, selecting, and acquiring learning resources: a guide. Vancouver, BC: ERAC.

Ekdahl, M. (2012). FIPPA and the Cloud: Issues for BC SchoolsTLSpecial Weekly Report. Blog. Vancouver, BC.

Ekdahl, M. (2013). Copyright considerationsTLSpecial Wiki. Vancouver, BC.

Hay, L. & Foley, C. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21CScan 28(2): 7-26.

School District No. 40 (New Westminster). (2011). New Westminster School District Library Handbook. Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=new%20westminster%20school%20library%20handbook

Teacher-Librarian Handbook Committee. (2007). School District No.36 (Surrey) Teacher Librarian Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.sd36.bc.ca/destiny/manual/documents/Handbook%2009-08-20.pdf

Zmuda, A. & Harada, V. H. (2008). Looking to the future: Providing resources to support 21st century learning. Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century (pp. 103-115). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Module 6: evaluating and curating online resources

As I digested Module 6, I my questions were ‘what is included in “multimodal texts” and how do other teacher librarians curate their resources?’ Is there a particular software or digital tool to help with this process?

In reading Serafini’s article (2012), multimodal texts include “written text, visual images, graphic elements, hyperlinks, video clips, audio clips, and other modes of representation, require different strategies for navigating and comprehension” (p.27). Ah, that makes sense; I just wasn’t familiar with the term “multimodal”.

Research guides are a collection of information sources that are useful to help students begin a particular research project. Hamilton (2011) suggests using LibGuides or any “web-authoring tool [that] can be used to create a research pathfinder” (p.36). I was part of the discussion moderators for this week so we eagerly posted a question to see how our colleagues curate resources.

As suggested on p. 5 of Module 6, teacher librarians can help teachers through the process in inquiry research by putting together ‘inquiry bins’ that would include a variety of engaging theme-based resources. I love that idea. When I first began my teaching practicum (many years ago!) I was blessed to be stationed in an elementary school in Langley. To help with some of the units I taught, I borrowed a few bins from the School District. These bins had nonfiction and fiction resources, some hands-on manipulatives and some teacher resources. Some museums and art galleries lend out similar type of bins. I would like to make this one of my goals for a future TL position.

To test out some of the sites listed in Module 6, I searched for some resources in preparation for a grade 7 field trip to the Nikkei Japanese Museum (on the topic of internment), I dug around Historica  http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/internment/  Definitely interesting footage to start a riveting discussion on social justice in my classroom.

Commito, M. (Aug. 13, 2014). Heritage Minute-Canadian Japanese Internment in WW2. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Sm5FFoTIpz8

Heritage Minute: Japanese Canadian Internment. (Oct. 24, 2012). The Historical GeogrpahyBritish Columbia, University of BC. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWJ-yg6RE6s

This led me to consider the importance primary sources are and what an impact they can have on student understanding. As I am sifting through resources for my inquiry science unit, I began thinking about what primary sources I might be able to dig up; perhaps some newspaper articles, video footage or personal interviews. Hmmm…

Evaluating Resources: Discernment Needed

Presenting students with hoax sites is a great way to begin the conversation about critically evaluating resources. I was shocked to read that people would alter facts about popular children’s authors just for fun. I loved Amelia Bedelia as a child (and still do). Her way of interpreting the world often reminded me of the primary students I have taught and their literal interpretations. (see link in References for a detailed account; caution this blog post contains some mature language and is not suitable for children)

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything [web site] (2011) is an excellent website filled with resources, handouts and lesson ideas to teach critical literacy to my students; definitely one to keep handy!   http://www.schrockguide.net/critical-evaluation.html

The webquest (Zunal.com) is another great tool to use as a self-guided lesson for elementary students.

Another interesting site that I found is Crockett’s (2016) web site “The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet”. A fantastic visual poster is available as a free download that guides students to consider the validity of new information.

Searching with Databases

Students need to learn the skills to adeptly search using databases. Going beyond Google takes time, effort and some practice. Teaching students the skills needed is definitely an important lesson. Our school has an EBSCO bundle, however, this seems to be quite underutilized. My mission last year (gr. 7) was to introduce my students to these search options. During one research project, students were required to dig around the EBSCO database for articles related to their research question on Ancient Egypt. I spent some time poking around the following sites that were listed on Module 6 of LLED course and found each offers a wealth of resources to use for inquiry projects.

 Curation tools    One interesting site to check out for possible tools to use for curation can be found on the wikispace webtools4u2use.  In particular, the page on curation tools gives a variety of options to consider. In reading the articles and blog posts written by Joyce Valenza, I was impressed with the depth of information she offers. I definitely want to follow her blogs. Some of the curation tools she suggests include Padlet and Symbaloo. I have played around with Padlet a bit but would like to become more adept at these tools.


Hoax sites to keep for future reference, consider using these sites as discussion starters with students: (LLED 469, Module 6, p. 2)


Bird, E. (2014, August 1). Wikipedia, Amelia bedelia, and our responsibility regarding online sources. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2014/08/01/wikipedia-amelia-bedelia-and-the-responsibility-of-online-sources/#

Hamilton, B. J. (2011). The school librarian as teacher: What kind of a teacher are you? Knowledge Quest39(5): 34-40.

Serafini, F. (2012) Reading multimodal texts in the 21st century. Research in Schools. 19(1), 26-32.

Vacca, R. T. & Vacca, J. A. L. (2005). Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum.NY: Pearson Education.

Valenza, J. (2012). CurationSchool Library Monthly. 29(1): 20-23.

Valenza, J. (2014). Librarians wanted for smashing, blending, toolkit building. In Neverending Search(blog, July 26, 2014). School Library Journal.

Valenza, J., curator. (n.d.). InformationFluencyTransliteracyResearchTools: Helping learners perform more meaningful research. Scoop-it.

Learning Curation #3 (462)

Essential Question:

  • How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new middle/high school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

Consider the following Secondary scenario

A grade 10 student comes into the library weary because he has to submit an intended reading list and goals for the year. The teacher is excited about his/her new syllabus and is making attempts to slowly integrate more choice in reading in combination with the required novels assigned.  The only novels he has ever finished, reluctantly, have been the ones that were required reading in class. He dislikes reading and the idea of finishing one novel let alone a list for the year is overwhelming. He is thinking of dropping the class.  (Module 3)

As a teacher-librarian, I see my role as two fold. First, my role is to act as an empathetic support to this grade 10 student. Second, my role is to be a collaborator with the teacher. For the sake of personalizing this scenario, I am going to refer to the student by the pseudonym “Dave” and describe a possible dialogue in a script-like format.

In considering my essential question of building a culture in which the library is the bridge within the school, I feel that collaboration amongst staff is a large component. I spent some time reading about how to build a participatory culture. In Hamilton’s (2011b) article “The school librarian as teacher: What kind of a teacher are you?” essential conditions that lead to a participatory culture are described (p.35). As a teacher librarian, I hope to foster a culture of collaboration through

  • the creation and sharing of lessons and units that recognizes the value of each contributor
  • mentorship
  • the development of social connections

In this article Hamilton (2011a) describes a new library model as one that moves away from a “data warehouse” to a “learning site” (p.41). Yes! That is what I desire; a learning site where the “the school librarian is a partner for learning, the boundaries between the traditional classroom and library space become one shared learning space” (p.43).

In the dialogue below, I describe the mock scenario in which I take on two of the many roles of a teacher librarian.

A: Teacher-Librarian as a Student Support

TL: Dave, I am so glad to see you today. But, you look frustrated. Is there something I can help you with?

Dave: I am thinking of dropping English Lit 10. I have to submit an intended reading list and my reading goals for the year. I admit that I am not a big fan of reading and only took this course because it fit my schedule and I needed the credits. Reading novels is so hard; the only ones I have finished in the past are those that were assigned readings. Thank goodness, movies and Coles’ Notes were available for those novels. Now, I need to come up with a whole list of books that I will actually finish.  I can never do that.

TL: Would you mind if I helped you? Perhaps I can speak to your teacher and see if she will allow us to come up with a list one book at a time, rather than an entire reading list.

Dave: I guess I can give that a try. What book do you recommend?

TL: What are your passions, hobbies and interests? Let’s start with that. Then, let’s see what kind of books you like.

Dave then describes his hobbies and interests and his love for action movies, especially those with a clear hero.

TL: I have an idea, let’s look at a book list and see what we can find. I will show you a few, tell you a bit about each and then you can choose one to start with. I will talk with your teacher and describe the plan that you and I have come up with. I know your teacher loves reading and is so excited with her new plan to allow students more choice in the books they read.

We then spend some time digging through the Novelist in the ERAC bundle on the library computer. I show Dave how to search for books by topic or by type. From the list, we then narrow it down to three choices. I pull them off the shelf and give a mini book talk to Dave. He selects one to try. I encourage him to read the first two chapters and then come and tell me what he thinks.

 We write down the names of the other two choices to keep for future possibilities. I ask Dave to check back with me tomorrow, after I have had a chance to talk with his teacher. Dave feels supported and listened to and leaves the library feeling much more hopeful. 

Screen Shots of EBSCO site that could help Dave find books of interest.

Background Knowledge:

As I heard recently on Stephen Krashen’s video: “The Power of Reading” one positive reading experience can make someone into a reader. He referenced a book titled “The Read Aloud Handbook” in which one’s ‘homerun book’ becomes a catalyst for a love of reading. Furthermore, as stated by Gaiman (2013), “to discover that reading per se is pleasurable…you’re on the road to reading everything”.

So, if I can find one great book that Dave will enjoy he will be motivated to read another. Tackling an entire list is too daunting, but starting with one book seems more manageable.

Through a 1:1 conversation, I helped Dave identify his ‘reading identity’ and to find that one “home run” book that will lead him down a road to reading.

B. Teacher-Librarian as Collaborator

I am very careful to approach the teacher with enthusiasm and support for her efforts to encourage more student choice and for her goal of stimulating a love of reading. I explain that Dave came to see me and how he was feeling frustrated because he just didn’t think he could come up with a list of books. He has struggled to read any book, let alone many. I explain that I helped Dave find one book to begin with. I share Gaiman’s article with the teacher and ask the teacher’s permission if I can work alongside Dave to create an ongoing list, rather than a complete list at the onset of the course. I explain that I asked Dave to check in with me tomorrow after I had a chance to speak to the teacher.

I tell the teacher how I am so proud of her for deliberately including in her syllabus more student choice. I show her the following quote from the article:

“The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

I also share with the teacher the link to the study by the Institute for Education (2013) about reading for pleasure. I tell her how surprised I was to read that “reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education” (web post).

I ask the teacher if she would like to bring the whole class to the library so I can demonstrate how the Novel search through EBSCO works and how this may be a good starting point in finding books.

The teacher is delighted that I have helped Dave get started and that he is willing to give the class a try. The teacher wholeheartedly gives me permission to work with Dave and to allow him to submit an ‘ongoing’ list (formative) rather than a complete list. She is equally thrilled that I am willing to work with the whole class to support them in finding their books and in creating their lists.

The initial project takes off and becomes a treasure hunt for the nuggets of gold in the library!


Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_gu

Hamilton, B. J. (2011a). Creating conversations for learning: School libraries as sites of participatory culture. School Library Monthly 27(8): 41-43.

Hamilton, B. J. (2011b.). The school librarian as teacher: What kind of a teacher are you? Knowledge Quest39(5): 34-40.

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, study finds.  Retrieved from http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsEvents/89938.html

Krashen, S. (2012, April 5). The power of reading. The COE lecture series. University of Georgia. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSW7gmvDLag