The learning commons has been defined as a learning laboratory where books don’t get
in the way. In the face of digitalization and the dominance of Google, the question
is, “How can librarians get back in the information game?” The idea of a learning
commons is now being tried in a number of academic libraries and the idea is being
discussed for school libraries. This lecture will go on the offensive to push the
library into the center of teaching and learning K-20 in the areas of competing
directly with Google, collaboratively building high-level learning experiences with
faculty, making the learning commons a one-stop place for expert assistance,
developing a 24/7/365 presence, and experimenting to build in the library models of
the very best teaching and learning. We will join Andrew Keen in his book The Cult
of the Amateur in examining the role of expertise in information but with the
realization that we must aggressively push in different ways if we are going to keep
this profession relevant.
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Tags: school libraries, informatino literacy, technology and learning, reading and libraries
How to coach teachers who don’t think like you : using literacy strategies to coach across content areas by Bonnie M. Davis (Corwin Press, 2008, 214 pp., ISBN: 9781412949095)
Instructional coaches, specialists within the school, and teacher librarians all have something in common as they attempt to collaborate with classroom teachers – locked doors. Davis is not thinking about teacher librarians, but writes eleven chapters that can be read/used as professional development conversations in any sequence. Her topics overlap teacher librarians concerns: moving from teaching students to coaching teachers; organizing to save stress, time, and mistakes; coaching teachers who don’t think like you; scheduling time for coaching; and, coaching teams of teachers to improve instruction. Davis assumes that a coach does not have a warehouse to tend as teacher librarians do, however, there are enough good ideas here to consider for collaborative strategies not already in the literature of teacher librarians. The idea occurs to us that if there are other specialists in the school who are having the same problem we are, then why not ban together as a professional learning community of specialists with concerned administrators and get a focused program of coaching going throughout the school that has a better chance for real change and impact on achievement. For this reason, we recommend the Davis book for ideas not only for ourselves but for other struggling professionals like ourselves.
75 outrageous ideas for librarians to impact student achievement : fun ideas to motivate students and inspire collaboration by Laurie Noble Thelen (Linworth Publishing, 2008, 89 pp., ISBN: 1586832328)
Of the many definitions of the word outrageous, we suppose that our author means: highly unusual or unconventional; extravagant; or remarkable. Thus, sone approaches this thin book with high anticipation. As we read the various activities, we applied the question: “Are two heads better than one?” That is, would the combined efforts of teacher and teacher librarian be better using these activities than if either of the partners tried to do them alone? We also looked at the process of collaboration, asking: Does the information literacy goal for the lesson support the learning of the content objective? Does the assessment actually measure both the content and the information literacy skill to be taught? Does the learning activity actually match the objectives stated? Are the learning activities “outrageous?” Was there a “so what” activity at the end of the learning activity to stimulate higher-level thinking? And, finally, How likely would the activities contribute to achievement as stated? We think such questions should be emblazoned on planning sheets, posters, and into the minds and hearts of every teacher librarian. When given the great gift of collaboration, how do we actually perform? We did find a few activities here that were mildly interesting, but not enough to justify the purchase of this book. However, the purchase might be justified for a professional development session with teacher librarians at a district level. Take a copy of the book, cut it up and distribute pages to teams of teacher librarians. Using the rubric questions above, have the group critique and reinvent the activity they are to critique. Perhaps we could all gain better ideas of actually how we could contribute to teaching and learning. So, in a strange way, buy this book and then be outrageous enough to move beyond it as you test your own creativity and skill.
Differentiated Instructional Strategies in Practice: Training, Implementation, and Supervision, 2nd ed by Gayle H. Gregory (Corwin Press, 2008, 150 pp., ISBN: 1412936527)
This handbook is a companion volume to Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All written by the same author and published in 2007. The two books together provide a recommended and very practical plan for instituting differentiation in an entire school. The handbook provides many many handoust, planning sheets and flow charts for each stage of planning, developing, teaching, and assessing the work of both the adults and the students involved. A CD contains all the forms in the books so that they are reproducible. Like many other professionals books in education, there is no reference to the one vast store of information, materials, and knowledgeable partners who would and could be the key to differentiating for a