Planning for Inquiry:The Teacher-Librarian and Instructional Design

Essential Questions

  1. How can teacher-librarians enable the information-to-knowledge journey of students?
  2. What are the key roles and responsibilities of the teacher-librarian in the instructional design process?


Show Notes


Planning for Inquiry: It's Not an Oxymoron! Diane Parker
Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles In Action - Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels
Schooling by Design Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
Information Models and Irises - James Herring
Donna's Diigo
Donna's Delicious
Living Sky School Division's Learning Resources Netvibes Page
igoogle (what is igoogle?)

Planning For Inquiry

In an Internet driven information environment, without inquiry there is no reason for school libraries. An instructional agenda targeted towards deep inquiry and knowledge development has to be the centrepiece of a transformed school library and the central dimension of the work of a teacher librarian (Todd, 2007).

Planning for inquiry is not pre-planing for inquiry (Parker, 2008). Rather than planning an inflexible series of lessons, teachers and teacher-librarians must carefully plan for the anticipated and the unanticipated based on their knowledge of learners and learning - they gather the resources and identify the possible skills students will need to assist their inquiry. Need to still unpack the outcomes, identify assessment, and develop instructional strategies that will enable success for all.

Choice is a central tenet in inquiry, and in best teaching practices. Students have choice in selecting resources and activities and, in collaboration with the teacher, determine the course of the inquiry.

Instructional Designer
Teacher-librarian is ideally posed to be an instructional designer.
Donna's Notes =
  • Understands the many faces of Inquiry
  • Designs of inquiry activities
  • Recognizes that learning is social
  • Incorporates Wiggins and McTighe's publications, Schooling by Design and Understanding By Design.
  • Listens to students' relevant questions and significant wonderings
  • Is flexible
  • Involves choice
  • Involves student in resources
  • Helps connect their inquiries to issues of personal interest and social significance.

There is a process for designing an inquiry; what is the role of the teacher-librarian in this process?
According to Barbara Stipling, the most important thing for a teacher-librarian to do is to help teachers make those connections with the curriculum and understand the scaffolding process. Students still need explicit modeling and guidance (the many faces of inquiry, inquiry circles, inquiry research), making connections with and for teachers, using the most effective Web 2.0 tools (evaluation tools, searching tools - Google Coop, Explorers), renewing the connections with process and content (bringing in reading comprehension strategies), and gathering evidence- based practice.

Instructional Specialist
The teacher-librarian must be an instructional specialist. They should be knowledeable in curriculum and what research states is best teaching and learning practices and provide continual professional development with teachers. Judy O'Connell states that the teacher-librarian's job is to bring information literacy and the curriculum outcomes together in a way that is relevant and meaningful to students.

James Herring, in Information Literacy Models, states "What I’m coming to think more and more is that such models can be used as the basis for students to form their own models, which are individual and suit their own learning styles".

Teachers must hand the brainwork of learning back to the kids. Daniels and Harvey (2008) joke that schools are places where young people go to watch old people work. Planning for inquiry does not involve delivering all the information, explaining exactly how students should structure their thinking, or how they should show what they know. Students need to act like real practitioners. They have to work with others, build knowledge, and ultimately, submit their findings to a peer or public audience (Daniels and Harvey, 2009).

Focus on the development of students thinking, first, foremost, and always.In true inquiry-based learning, we move kids quickly along the “continuum of comprehension” from recall and retelling to the higher-level activities of building and using knowledge (Harvey and Daniels, 2009).

Abreast of Emerging Technologies
Help students work with relevant emerging technologies to foster their inquiry.
Teacher-librarians need to be advocate of open access to emerging technologies that foster inquiry, not just proponents of print anymore.

Resoure Specialist
Teacher-librarian is knowledeable about resources, not just print. The role of the teacher-librarian is to filter resources to provide students with the most effective resource - one that will assist with their inquiry and perhaps stimulate further questioning.
Empower students and teachers to develop their own filters - collaboratively build tools NetVibes,iGoogle, Diggo, GoogleDocs, RSS
This allows resources to be placed in a virtual place to enable 24/7 access.

Measuring Our Progress

Teaching For Inquiry

Teacher- librarians provide "instructional interventions", the necessary procedural knowledge and processes to construct deep knowledge and understanding of topics; guide students in their inquiry; provide cognitive, affective and behavioural support; and to diagnose learning dilemmas before failure sets in" (Todd, 2007b, slide 5).

You have to know learners, learning, and content - and prepare for the anticipated and the unanticipated (Parker, 2008).

Learning is social. It is the orchestration of the discourse,the way questions are posed and discussion is guided in response to their wonderings, that fosters deep inquiry. Teacher-librarians must create a community of learners in which students:
  • Display their thinking
  • Are metacognitive of their learrning, both process and content
  • Responsible for their learning
  • Respond to different levels of questions
  • Focus on their thinking
  • Lead the dialogue
  • Allow rich dialogue to occur in various settings
  • Redirect conversation and negotitation of learning to amongst students

Inquiry “requires sustained engagement, collaboration, research, management of resources, and the development of an ambitious performance or product” (Darling-Hammond, p.12).

The era of Teacher Librarians ‘taking a class’ in order to show kids how to search, get basic skills, or navigate resources is over. This is a teachers job!! Teach the teacher by all means (that’s professional development) but don’t waste time doing repeat performances for a teacher who hasn’t caught up with how to integrate information resources into the curriculum. How can they claim to be good teachers if they can’t model how to use information effectively? How to use new search tools? How to navigate databases? These ARE NOT specialist skills any more – they are core skills for learning!
(O'Connell, Content Used to be King)