Inspiring Curiosity: A Librarian’s Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning

What is the school librarian’s role throughout the inquiry-based learning experience? How can we impact the learning experience for our students and make a difference?

The book Inspiring Curiosity: A Librarian’s Guide to Inquiry-Based Learning hopes to provide inspiring stories and practical examples of how school librarians can go beyond teaching students how to access and evaluate sources to become an essential contributor of the instructional team.

Not every inquiry-based lesson will develop into an in-depth research project or essay. Many will result in engaging Socratic Seminars where students debate and explore ideas with their classmates. Other inquiry-based lessons might lead to investigate scientific phenomena or the creation of “wonder walls” to document new questions of inquiry. I am interested in finding those key entry points where librarians can insert themselves into inquiry-based lessons and offer expertise and insights unique to our position.

Librarians can do more than just guide learners towards digital and print sources. We work directly with every student and every teacher in our school. We see the bigger picture and can view the landscape of our school through the lens of inquiry. We can influence the tone and direction of how students see themselves as researchers. Every librarian can focus on personalized learning and ensure we are preparing teens for their future.

How do you inspire curiosity?

New Chrome extension for Opposing Viewpoints in Action

Check out the new Chrome Extension (beta) from Gale Cengage for the database Opposing Viewpoints in Action. Many of the classes at my school use this database as jumping off points for students selecting topics for research.

Traditionally, we have directed students to access the database from the Sunset Library webpage bit.ly/sunsetlibrary and I will encourage to continue to do that but the new Chrome extension now displays results from Opposing Viewpoints in Action alongside Google search results.


This is a game changer! We can now teach students the concept of “triangulation” and comparing the credibility of open web results with published articles from essays, academic journals, and reference books.

 Here are the directions of how students can install the Chrome extension.

Your students will need to fill out the database credentials listed to authenticate to your District account. Include:

  • Library Name
  • Gale Library Location Id
  • Gale Library Password Id

Note: This only works for Google searches on the Chrome browser (Chromebook, Mac or PC) with Opposing Viewpoints!

  I am VERY excited about the possibilities of utilizing this for research and also teaching other information literacy strategies, including source evaluation and advanced Google search techniques.

 The extension is in BETA but I heard from the Gale Cengage rep that other databases will be added after a thorough review.

 Happy Searching!

AASL National Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries

I felt very fortunate to be able to attend the 2017 AASL Conference this year. I was very interested in the pre-conference workshop around the newly released AASL Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Learn more at http://standards.aasl.org/.

The AASL National Library Standards for Learners are framed around the Shared Foundations of Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage and embrace progressive pedagogies.

Our challenge is to create a learning culture centered on innovation, collaboration, exploration, deep thinking, and creativity.  I am considering how I embrace this notion: “School librarians are key to the success of this educational paradigm shift because they provide resources and instruction to all learners through an inquiry-based research model that supports questioning and the creation of new knowledge focused on learner interest and real-world problems” (44).

One of my primary goals, when I am collaborating with classroom teachers this year, is to bring the concept of relevance to the lessons and more student agency. I want my students to be self-directed thinkers who investigate and consider real issues and empower them to develop solutions or expand their understanding.

I look forward to diving into the Standards and share how they will be implemented in my high school and district.

Stay tuned!

Encouraging Curiosity

As a Librarian, I am often asked to help with research projects with my high school students.  Some projects are truly great and engaging but too often I wonder just how interested are the students in learning something new or are they “just doing enough” to get the grade.

Creating a culture in your Library, classroom or school that embraces curiosity and celebrates learning can spark the imagination of students — especially when they have CHOICE in choosing what to research.  Teachers can do a lot to establish and model regular curiosity by asking questions, wondering aloud, sharing cool things they have learned, showing videos that are inspiring, etc.  When students see their Librarian and Teacher excited by their new discoveries they, in turn, will want to share what they have learned.

Former Social Studies teacher from Sunset High School and now District TOSA, Matt Hiefield, had every student create their own digital “Curiosity Board”  for 9th grade World History using a website called Linoit (http://en.linoit.com/).  Linoit is similar to Padlet (https://padlet.com/) and is like a digital corkboard where you can post images, text and embed videos. If an interesting question came up during a class discussion, Hiefield would direct his students to add it to their own curiosity board for investigation later on. Occasionally, he would have students research a chosen question and share what they learned during a gallery walk. What a great way to celebrate being curious!

If we want our students to be excellent researchers and be authentic in their interest in learning, we must make every effort to build a culture that acknowledges and celebrates deep learning. How do you create this culture in your classroom?

Science News magazine on EBSCO

Besides academic journals, EBSCO has some magazines in their results and I saw that Science News is one of them.

  1. First I went to the Sunset Library Resource page and chose Academic Search Complete https://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/depts/IT/Library-Resources/Pages/sunset.aspx
  2. You are automatically logged on when on campus; off campus needs your username and password.
  3. I chose Advanced Search but didn’t put anything in search (but you could) and just checked full text and wrote Science News for the publication and chose Search.
  4. This gives results from the magazine.  Then I changed the Relevance drop down menu to Date Newest and it displays all the Science News articles in reverse chronological order and most are PDFs from the magazine.
  5. You could also filter it by Cover Story if you only want more in depth stories.
  6. When you open the PDFs of each issue you can advance through the issue pages a few at a time and easily switch to a different issue.

Nifty tip:  If  you use a Chrome browser and are logged into your Google account you can “print” the articles directly to Google Drive – either the PDF or the HTML version.

Note:  Not all sources have original PDFs from the magazines – some are just the article text.  Some other science sources I found when searching (beside academic journals):  Popular Science, New Scientist, Science Now, Current Science, Scientific American, plus Time, US News & World Report, and Newsweek.

Accessing Electronic Resources

FutureReady2

One of my #1 goals this year as a LITT is to expose faculty and students to the wide variety of electronic resources available through Beaverton School District.

Research shows that one area college-level students are lacking is in their ability to locate, access and disseminate scholarly material — especially from academic electronic databases.  

So if our goal is for Sunset students to be college and career ready our students need to know this information!

  1. Electronic Resources:  Access the Sunset Library catalog, electronic databases, eBooks, encyclopedias, etc from the Sunset Library Resource Page (hint:  bookmark it or access it from the Staff bookmark link!).  EBSCO Academic Search Complete is a new database to Beaverton this year!

  2. Handouts: Look over the two PDF handouts that were sent by email.

    1. One is a faculty handout which explains how to log in, search, share resource lists and passwords for various databases.

    2. Feel free to make copies of the student handout for your classes.  (This would be a great addition to the 9th grade notebook).  Pass this out to students but please don’t publish the password on a public website!

  3. Instruction: Invite me to a learning team meeting or to one of your classes and I will teach how to access the resources and give hints on how to conduct an effective search.

  4. Breakfast Club!  Want to meet 1:1 or with a few other to learn the basics of searching and access any of our electronic databases?  Let’s meet in Colette’s office Wednesday mornings at 7:15am for a refresher. Just drop by anytime 🙂

Cross posted at https://sites.google.com/a/beaverton.k12.or.us/sunsetpd/research