In the past, school libraries used to be very focused on the librarian being the gateway between students and resources.
Today, they’re about using library resources to promote engagement and participation. Learning doesn’t have to be one-way, and the kids don’t necessarily need the librarian to be the go-between. We can get out of the way and help our kids interact with the people behind their books and resources. Here are our third graders after Skyping with the editor of the BOXCAR CHILDREN series. We built this into a unit on editing and telling the same stories through different media. To the left of the projection of the editor is the live Twitter feed of the event. The students carefully researched the titles and took turns asking questions in front of the Webcam. This event got kids so excited to be connectet to experts that they actively sought out other opportunities to connect.
In the past, all young children engaged in being listeners to stories. They were passive – although appreciative – participants in stories. And those stories were almost always about FICTION. And check out that Christmas tree! We wouldn’t see that today.
Today, we recognize the value of collective, collaborative, self-paced work. Here,first grade students are on their second day of studying the rocks and minerals centered on the carpet. With teams, these first graders are using rock and mineral books to identify the rocks after touching, SMELLING, and discussing them. The students guide their rate of discovery. (Can you tell this was the daybefore the Michigan – Michigan State game?)
Take a look at the brand-new book in this kid’s hand. Solo learning like this used to be how we worked in libraries.
Now, we recognize that children can work collaboratively on projects and pool their knowledge. Here, students are learning about space exploration. They were VERY excited to learn how astronauts took baths and went to the bathroom! These first graders visited the library independent of their class to identify an area for research that interested them. We determined a good topic by saying that inquiry topics are topics that we know a little bit about but would like to know more. The red posterboard, when opened, provides a home for their Post-It notes. - Quick discussion of Debbie Miller – “Teaching with Intention” model – reference SLM article
Another example: collaborative notetaking See SLM article
Another example of collaborative learning: explain what this is – struggling readers created a felt board and then constructed the story shown. The visual images clearly ground the storytelling, and notice how the story moves from left to right across the felt board.
Introduce mentor text project with Help Me, Mr. Mutt
Describe the story – scaffolding the lists of character traits, writing styles
Students then responded in the voice of the cat … our students insisted on making stationery … so we went with it. Their plan was better than ours!
So … are we focusing our time on Dewey Decimal system scavenger hunts and OPAC exercises? Or …
Or teaching THROUGH resources to help students gain transferable skills in the future?
NCTE 2010 Libraries
Expanding Literacies Through
A Panel Presentation for
The National Council of Teachers of English
2010 Annual Conference
“Connecting literacy and
libraries is not always as
intuitive as we would like”
School of Information
University of Michigan
The School LibraryThe School Library
as a Spaceas a Space
for Innovative Thinkingfor Innovative Thinking
That Was ThenThat Was Then
http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsphotos/252591429/ Some rights
“When children have access
to more books at home,
at school, or at the public
library, they read more.”
“Children from higher-
income families have
access to reading
material they like, but
children from lower-
income families do not”
What hit me . . .
• “ . . . the ability to read
well is the single best
indicator of future
• “An extra 15 minutes of
reading per day can lead
to three months of
• What multicultural
resources did my library
• What did the students
want to read?
• How could I provide more
access to the materials
The Bin Project
•Bins in all instructional areas of the
building, as well as offices
•Accessible, interesting titles that
mirrored student culture
•Encouraged staff to read and share
•Added and replaced titles as
• Added interest in all types
• Increased library
• More staff participation in
• A culture of reading
• Increased test scores
Allen, C. A., & Swistak, L. (2004). Multigenre research: The
power of choice and interpretation. Language Arts, 81(3),
Hamilton, B. (2009). Students creating content with
multigenre learning artifacts. The Unquiet Librarian [blog]
Loertscher, D. V. (2009). Connections with people and ideas
and the Learning Commons. In D. V. Loertscher (Ed.),
Connections: Papers of the Treasure Mountain Research
Retreat (pp. 9-32). Salt Lake City, UT: Hi Willow Research