Video: The Librarian as a Catalyst and Learning Specialist in K12

English teacher Lisa Kennedy and librarian Buffy Hamilton discuss partnerships for learning between the librarian and classroom teacher; they also share how this partnership between librarian and teacher influences Lisa’s evolution as a teacher and her instructional design and in turn, Buffy’s practice as a librarian.


Harada, V. H., & Zmuda, A. (2008, April). Reframing the library media specialist as a learning specialist. School Library Monthly, 24(8). Retrieved from‌articles/‌Zmuda&Harada2008v24nn8p42.html

Ushering in the Era of “Validation”: Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload

Curation” is a hot buzzword right now in circles of people interested in information and how it is created, organized, distributed, digested, and self-filtered.  As someone who has been and continues to be interested in the changing nature of authority, social scholarship, and helping people learn how to develop their own “information filters”, I was fascinated by this slidedeck from Steve Rubel and the accompanying article via Mashable (thank you to Steve Rosenbaum for pointing me to these resources).

While the slides and article focus on how companies and their brands can gain authority through transmedia storytelling, I think the principles highlighted in the slides and the Mashable article are more than applicable for libraries and librarians:

1.  Elevate the experts (this SO speaks to the concepts of participatory librarianship and culture!):  “Find your company’s subject-matter experts and empower them to “cultivate new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation around them,” advises Rubel.

2.  Curate to connect:  “Rubel pointed out an unprecedented opportunity for companies and individuals to gain authority and become thought leaders by being the ones who “separate art from junk for people to understand it.” Curation is just as important as creation.”

3.  Dazzle with data:  “The solution is to make data and information more visual and entertaining.”  I’ve talked extensively in the last year about libraries using more than flat statistics and your sole perspective to tell the story of library.  Think multimedia and shared voices of your patrons in giving meaning to the data you are sharing transparently with your community.

4.  Put hubs on hubs:  “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and “go deeper” when they want to.” We’re doing this already with SlideShare (but not Scribd–our district’s filter classifies Scribd as “porn”) at The Unquiet Library; I’m now thinking about other mediums for adding hubs that the staff can create in 2011-12 as well as our students, our experts in training (this principle speaks to Henry Jenkins’ identifying the scaffolding of novices in becoming experts as an essential element of participatory culture).

5.  Ask and Answer:  everyone in an organization should be able to field questions via social media, not just a few staff members.  I’m contemplating some interesting possibilities for ways libraries and schools could take this advice to heart to elevate our “brand” and authority in our community.

How do you see your library incorporating these principles of authority building ?  How might these principles help you and your library community create conversations for learning?

NoodleBib Assignment Dropbox for Sharing Student Work and Formative Assessment

If you haven’t tried the electronic dropbox feature in NoodleBib/NoodleTools, check out my tutorial on how you can set up your own teacher/assignment dropbox and enable students to share their Works Cited list, notecards, and a Google Document associated with a project list with you and/or multiple teachers (wonderful for teacher and librarians to BOTH provide feedback!).  I see this feature of NoodleBib as a way to provide specific feedback to students and as a formative assessment tool for learning to use with students.

What would make this feature even better is if students could respond to the teacher feedback and/or have some type of commenting feature similar to what is in Google Docs to track conversations and feedback for learning–perhaps this will be a future enhancement?  While I’ve provided feedback on print copies of Works Cited lists and electronic notecards and assisted with the editing of student papers using the discussions and commenting features in Google Docs, I’ll be undertaking my first effort at collaborative electronic assessment using this feature next week with Susan Lester as our Media 21/Learning 21 students hit their first Works Cited/ notecard checkpoint this Friday, April 1; each group is working on a collaboratively constructed project in NoodleTools (see Chapter 6 in the NoodleBib guide under “student collaboration”), and each member of a collaborative project can see all feedback provided that Susan and I provide.  I’m looking forward to the process and listening to student feedback on how this method of formative assessment works for them once we return from spring break in mid-April!

Written instructions are provided in the NoodleBib Users Guide in Chapter 6 under “Sharing Projects” and “Teacher Instructions”; student instructions are provided in this chapter as well.

What’s Going On

You may have noticed the sparse number of blog posts so far in 2011—the relative degree of “quiet” here on the blog is in contrast to the buzz of activity happening offline.

Writing, Thinking, Reflecting

Some exciting writing endeavors have occupied a good bit of my creative energies and time outside of the school day over the last three or four weeks; I’ll be sharing more about these efforts closer to publication times later this spring. While the writing process is sometimes quite stressful, it also leads to intense and thoughtful reflection; in some cases, the discovery of new resources to better inform current and future practice/projects.

The Unquiet Library Is Decidedly Unquiet: Projects

The school day and beyond have been jam-packed with a multitude of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors engaging in their late winter research projects (folklore, American authors, archetypes and popular culture, current/hot events, needs/causes and service organizations that work to address these needs on a local, state, or national level) through their English courses.  I’ve also been working with science teacher Mary Panik on a unit about natural disasters, which included students creating a wiki for their research findings as well as a Skype session with a research vessel off the coast of New Zealand.  In addition, I’ve worked with Criminal Justice studies teacher Jason Hubbard and his students to research natural or man-made disasters and lessons learned from those events; I’ll be posting student created “presentation zen” style slidedecks to the pathfinder later this month once presentations are completed.   One of my favorite collaborative efforts from the last few weeks is a research project Susan Lester and her seniors are engaged in about the role of social media in recent political uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran.  I’m looking forward to reviewing with the teachers what they felt worked well and suggestions for tweaking these research assignments later this month as we try to improve the effectiveness of our collaborative efforts.

Observations, Questions, Worries, Action Steps, Goals Evolving So Far in 2011

  • Providing students scaffolding with tools like graphic organizers and “checkpoints” of research tasks to complete is essential, especially for underclassmen who may be coming to us with limited prior research experiences.
  • I need to provide tools for to our teachers to better pre-assess student prior knowledge about research skills before beginning a research project so that we can better target those skills as part of our focus on process.
  • I’m thinking about resources and strategies for improving nonfiction reading skills (periodicals, nonfiction books, essays in book chapters or databases, reference articles) for students.  While some students show great skill in identifying supportive details or evidence to develop a main idea, many need additional assistance in this area.  Even though some of the teachers did targeted practice in which they modeled and had students practice these skills with these types of texts,  many students need additional yet authentic practice with these kinds of reading skills and nonfiction texts. Nonfiction Matters by Stephanie Harvey (great for any age, really), Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, and Subjects Matter: Every Teacher’s Guide to Content-Area Reading by Harvey Daniels and Steven Zemelman are three resources that come to mind; what others resources (print or virtual) would you suggest?
  • How do we more effectively engage students who seemingly do not want help or choose not to use class/library time work on their projects in spite of multiple efforts from teachers and librarians to support their work and learning needs?  Whether it is a traditional text-based paper, a wiki-based project involving choice, or even a multimedia project, I’ve observed an increasing number of students this year who seem resistant to taking advantage of class time to work on a project.
  • How do create more inquiry-oriented research assignments without overwhelming struggling learners with both content and process?
  • I continue to struggle with feelings about citation processes—our students are definitely making strides in differentiating information sources, both print and virtual, this year, and NoodleTools has been instrumental in that process.  However, in order to better meet students at their point of need, I have started creating “information organizer” handouts for assorted information sources to help students jot down the essential publication information they will need for citing the source.   In the past, I have balked at using these kind of paper handouts and felt that it was more efficient and effective for students to enter the bibliographic information as they worked through the NoodleTools wizard.  However, I’ve changed my stance and realized that for many students, particularly those with limited research experience, this extra layer of scaffolding makes the process of using the NoodleTools less stressful and tedious.    While I’ve always provided print and virtual copies of directions for citing sources, I’m now using these “publication information organizers” to help students record the bibliographic information in the order they will need it for the NoodleTools citation.  I’m still in the process of uploading handouts and tutorial videos I have previously created or recently created to this new NoodleTools portal (in the past, this was included as a separate tab or page in individual research guides), but you can see the beginnings of this new citation help portal here.   The most difficult source for students to cite is Gale Literature Resource Center simply because there are so many possible combinations of possible information sources, particularly those with 2-3 layers of publication information–I am hopeful that some new updates to NoodleTools this summer will help us work through some of the more complex citation challenges.

For next year, I will work with department heads to devise a formal list of information literacy/research/inquiry skills each student should be able to successfully demonstrate at the end of each grade level so that we can have better consistency in the skills we are targeting since our state and district curriculum do not provide a comprehensive or sequential list of benchmarks.  We’ll also include options for formative and summative assessments that both teachers and students can use for demonstrating mastery of these skills.   I also  hope to get more teachers to include reflective pieces in research projects for student metacognition, particularly when thinking about what they have learned from the research experience and to more effectively articulate information source evaluation with more purpose and thought.  While some teachers are already working on this skill with me through blogging, annotated bibliographies, or information source interviews we’re doing with students, I think this aspect needs to be more commonplace in all research assignments across every subject area.  Finally, I think some teachers are now more receptive to my encouraging them to consider incorporating more frequent but smaller formal research assignments into their courses throughout the school year to better support student learning while tackling some of the challenges I’ve identified in this post.

Looking Ahead to 2011-2012:  Shift Is Happening Now

As if all of these observations,  action steps, questions, and goals aren’t enough to think about, I have been working with a team of teachers to propose some shifts in our library program and how the library supports teaching, learning, and student achievement at Creekview High.   I’ll be blogging later this week about this new initiative that has our administrative support and that I believe is going to help The Unquiet Library take a huge leap forward in better supporting both teachers and students in 2011-12.  Not only I am thrilled about the new initiative we’ll be officially launching in August 2011 (although the groundwork is already in progress), but the teachers are equally excited and passionate about this new initiative as well—that in and of itself is energizing!  I look forward to sharing the details of this new initiative with all of you on the blog later this week.