In these days of Google searching, teaching students how to research is more important than ever. Research skills can be found throughout the Common Core, at all different grade levels, and graduate students in the School Library Studies program develop a number of strategies for teaching research and inquiry skills.
Instead of sending students to the Internet at the beginning of their research project, teacher librarians help students begin their inquiry process by forming a question. Then they teach them Common Core skills such as searching for “relevant information from multiple print and digital sources” and evaluating the credibility of sources (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.Writing 8.8).
In the most recent School Library Studies Reference course, students worked in pairs to create Inquiry Pathfinders at either the secondary or elementary level. Some Pathfinders help eighth grade students investigate a question about population, guiding them to credible electronic sources such as Britannica Online and Congressional Quarterly Researcher and teaching them how to search effectively within these databases. Other students designed Inquiry Pathfinders on ramps and pathways for second grade students using electronic resources, videos and other sources.
Throughout their work, the graduate students, many of who are currently teacher librarians, learned from each other's experience. "I have them work with someone who has different grade level experience," explained Karla Krueger, an assistant professor at University of Northern Iowa. "An elementary teacher may think being a high school teacher librarian is out of the question, but once they work with a secondary teacher on this project, they start to see that the skills are similar and that they have something to offer older students." This helps them see the continuity of skills and standards in the Common Core and prepares them for work as K-12 teacher librarians.
Creating a common language
To help students improve their research skills, teachers at Waukee Middle School, Iowa, collaborated to develop a common language for the inquiry process. Teacher librarian Kelly Reinhold along with Franny Frey and Stephanie Jansa presented "Common Language: Inquiry Process, Credible Online Sources and Copyright" at the Iowa Association of School Librarians (IASL) conference April 14, 2014, in Cedar Rapids. Their presentation included the Waukee Middle School Inquiry Process and other tools. Read more.
Texts sets and the Common Core
The Common Core Curriculum Standards call for students at all grade levels to “Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.” This invites the teacher librarian to collaborate with teachers in developing and teaching sets of texts for students to read and compare. Students in the School Library Studies course Library Resources for Children (SLS 5132) create text sets around science and social studies concepts in the Iowa Core Curriculum. Read more.
Two UNI School Library Studies alumnae, Shannon McClintock Miller and Chelsea Sims, collaborated with teachers in their schools to design inquiry lessons included in the new book Inquiry and the Common Core: Librarians and Teachers Designing Teaching for Learning. Inquiry learning is a key part of the Common Core's Research to Build and Communicate Knowledge strand. Shannon Miller, a K-12 teacher librarian in Van Meter, Iowa, worked with teachers to design an animal research project for kindergarten students based on the Stripling Model of Inquiry. Chelsea Sims, a teacher librarian at Hills Elementary School and Southeast Junior High School in the Iowa City Community School District, submitted a lesson from a seventh grade zombie-themed science research project. Read more.