titleinquiry logo

InquiryGuide 2: Student Information Scientists & the Instructional Media Specialist



Most media specialists work with children and young adults across grade levels and watch them evolve as student information scientists. Some teachers don't realize the important teaching role that media specialists can play in helping meet student learning standards. It’s your job to develop learning experiences that reflect your abilities as a dynamic teacher by connecting information and content area standards as well as collaborating with classroom teachers.

Over the past few decades, educators have been inundated with pressure waves of initiatives and hot topics. Rather than gliding along comfortably, teachers have been overwhelmed by models and mandates. What do they all mean? What's "hype" and what's really helpful in creating an effective teaching and learning environment? The key to a postive atmosphere for learning is focusing on the best of elements of each new idea, concept, or strategy and developing an eclectic approach to teaching and learning that assimilates a wide range of ideas.

Be a Trail Blazer

InquiryLike a Trail Blazer, your job is to explore and experience new worlds of understanding. In this section, you'll be examining topics related to life-long learning, inquiry, and literacy. Each reading will provide the tools you need to complete the Trail Blazer activities. Note that the specific textbook readings are listed within the webpages. I've also listed them on the course calendar for quick reference.

Read Student Inquirers, Professional Information Scientists, Expert vs Novice Information Scientists, Student Information Scientists.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 170-183

Read Understanding Learners: Brain-based (Compatible) Learning, Constructivism, Creative and Inventive Thinking, Critical Thinking, Gender, Metacognition, Motivation, Meaningfulness, Multiple Intelligences, Self-Regulation.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 334-339, 349-353, 363-368, 381-386, 431-436

Read Trace Student Maturation By Topic: Audience Analysis, Authority, Classics, Experts, Future Applications, Journal, Linking, Key Terms, Original Data, Question, Rating, Useful Patterns.

Read Inquiry-based Learning: Questioning, Exploration, Assimilation, Inference, and Reflection. Be sure to watch the associated videos titled Digital Detectives at Vimeo.

Optional Reading - Read Inquiry Learning through Librarian -Teacher Partnerships by Harada & Yoshina

Trail Blazer 5: Understanding Learners (3 Points)
[Complete ONE of the following options]

5.1: Critical and Creative Thinking - Many people advocate combining critical thinking and creative thinking activities. In other words, for a given standard build activities that promote critical thinking and also promote creative thinking. Select a step in the Big 6 model and a subject area standard. Review the critical thinking and creative thinking pages. Then, discuss an inquiry project, a lesson, or series of mini-lesson ideas that could include both critical thinking and creative thinking elements. What are the benefits and/or drawbacks of this approach?

5.2: Motivating Minds - How do you get students excited about a dull topic? How do you get both girls and boys interested in reading? Select a topic that students might traditionally view as BORING. You might even find a boring lesson online to use for discussion. Envision a transformed, inquiry-based approach that engages all learners. Brainstorm ways to address EACH of the following five issues: brain-based learning, gender, motivation, meaningfulness, and multiple intelligences.

5.3: Comic View - Sometimes a visual is the easiest way to explain an idea. Read the examples at the Exploratorium page. Then, read about Planning Using the Comic Format. Create your own using this layout. Your comic must reflect an inquiry-based approach. You can download a trial of Comic Life or build it in other software such as Publisher. Be sure to export your project as a JPG, HTML, PDF for other format that everyone will be able to read.

5.4: Linkages
- Explore three examples (Digital History, Jamal, Great Seal) of how concept maps can be used to visualize linkages, resources, and processes in a project. Design your own linkages map and description (1) from your own teaching experience, (2) from your own inquiry experience, OR (3) based on work by a child. Your visual should be the focal point for your assignment, however you must also include the narrative describing the process and professional literature that helps interpret this experience. Include both the visual concept map(s) (as an attachment) and the interpretation.

In this section, you'll be examining topics related to life-long learning, inquiry, and literacy. Each reading will provide the tools you need to complete the Trail Blazer activities. Note that the specific textbook readings are listed within the webpages. I've also listed them on the course calendar for quick reference.

Read A Community of Learners: Learning Leader, Teacher, Facilitator, Curriculum Developer, Parent, Collaboration for Inquiry, Classroom Teacher-Media Specialist Collaborative Planning.
Read BOOK BOOK: 131-169, 322-327, 378-380, 461-469

Optional Reading - Information Power: Chapter 3
Optional Reading -CC: Chapter 5, 6, 9, 10, 11

Read Instructional Models: Theory to Practice: Anchored Instruction, Authenic Learning and Assessment, Cognitive Apprenticeship, Cooperative Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Evidence-based Programs and Practices, Habits of Mind, Literature Circles, Project and Problem-based Learning, Situated Learning, Sustained Silent Reading, and Understanding by Design.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 118-129, 292-302, 318-321, 344-348, 425-430 , 496-501, 527-530.

Trail Blazer 6: Collaboration and the Profession (3 Points)
[Complete ONE of the following options]

6.1: Approaches to Collaboration - Personalities can have a tremendous impact on the ability of the media specialist and teacher to work together. The relationship between a teacher and media specialist is critical to a successful program of information inquiry. There are many different approaches to collaboration. Interview an experienced library media specialist or teacher about their experiences with teacher-media specialist collaborations. Describe the characteristics of an effective collaborative relationship. Talk about the roles of inquiry, literacies, and standards. Also describe the common barriers. Use detailed examples from your interview. Then, brainstorm factors that can impact effective collaboration. Citing the professional literature, discuss ideas for developing an effective collaborative atmosphere in a library media program.

6.2: Address the Naysayers - You're a new library media specialist in a school district containing eight professionals. From the first department meeting, you notice that two of the media specialists are whiners. They think the department spends too much time discussing curriculum issues and collaborative teaching ideas and not enough time with the "real" concerns of librarians: books and other resources. Do you side with them or try to convince them to see the importance of the media specialist's role in teaching and learning? Justify your decision and provide at least 3 of examples from the literature to support your argument.

6.3: Changing Roles - How has the instructional role of the media specialist changed over the past 55+ years? Read the articles The Changing Instructional Role of the High School Library Media Specialist: 1950–84 by Kathleen Craver (SLMQ, 14(4), 1986), Current Themes Regarding Library and Information Skills Instruction: Research Supporting and Research Lacking by Michael B. Eisenberg and Michael Brown (SLMQ, 20(2), 1992), Instructional Consultant Role of the School Library Media Specialist by Patricia W. Pickard (SLMQ, 21(3), 1993), and The Instructional Consultant Role of the Elementary-School Library Media Specialist and the Effects of Program Scheduling on Its Practice by Eleonor Putman (SLMQ, 25(1), 1996). These articles are now more than ten years old. Are they still relevant? Provide specific examples and support from recent professional literature that would update these articles. Connect your new ideas to specific topics in the earlier articles. Draw some conclusions about the roles in our field.

Read Assignment: Analysis, Audience Analysis, Bias, Concept Map, Evidence, Figurative Language, Idea Strategies, Information Search Strategies, Interview, Note-Taking, Nonfiction Reading, Oral History,Organizers, Plagiarism, Primary Sources, Questioning, Story, Student Products, Student-Talk, Synthesis, Technology, Textbook, and Time on Task.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 275-291, 303-306, 328-333, 369-394, 401-410, 442-460, 470-475, 480-488, 502-509, 531-535, 539-573

Read Assessment: Checklist, Conferencing, Student Journals, Portfolios, Rubrics, and Professional Assessment.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 476-482, 489-495, 516-522, 536-538

Optional Reading - Information Power: Appendix E
Optional Reading - CC: Chapter 8

Read Scaffolding for Learning: Teaching and Learning Essentials, Modeling Inquiry with Early Nonfiction,
Problem Identifiers, Student Conferences, Mentoring Roles, Guides to Facilitating Information Use, and Tactile, Text, and Visual Techniques.
Read BLUE BOOK: p. 523-526

Optional Reading - Information Power: Chapter 4

Read Teaching and Learning Strategies: Planning for Inquiry, Creating Teaching and Learning Material, Lesson Plan, Collaborative Planning, Learning Environment Management, Adapting Existing Materials, Teaching and Learning Materials on the Web, and Tutorials and Resources for Teaching.

Read Inquiry for All: Science and Inquiry and Social Sciences, Humanities, and Inquiry

Trail Blazer 7: Bridging Theory and Practice (3 Points)
[Complete ONE of the following options]

7.1: Assignments:
Choose one of the Key Words (such as Note-taking, Interview, Figurative Language) in the Assignments area to explore in-depth. Provide examples of how you would approach this topic or strategy. Brainstorm activity ideas. Create a worksheet, handout, or other materials that could be used to scaffold student learning. ATTACH IT to your assignment. It's okay to adapt one you find online, but cite your source. What makes this approach particularly effective?

7.2: Assessments: Read the strategies identified in Appendix E of Information Power. Also, review Chpt 5 of the Harada book. Select a type of assessment tool (i.e., checklist, conferencing, journaling, rubric, portfolio) and describe why it is a good choice for a particular learning style, subject area project, and instructional situation. Be specific. Describe an instructional situation and how you might apply the assessment tool. Create an assessment tool to go with this activity and ATTACH IT to your assignment. It's okay to adapt one you find online, but cite your source. What makes this assessment particularly effective in this instructional situation?

7.3: Habits of Mind - Read the questions suggested in NoodleTools - Habits of Mind. Explore the Racial Privacy example (unfortunately some of the links no longer work). Create and share your own example on a specific topic such as another social issue, environmental focus or other subject using the Habits of Mind format (i.e., evidence, point of view, connection, what if? and significance). How do the ideas of "habits of mind" relate to "information fluency"? Provide professional citations to support your view.


Project 2: Inquiry-based Learning

Design inquiry-based learning experiences for TWO DIFFERENT grade levels of children or young adults. A learning experience is much more than simply a lecture and worksheet. You should provide a real-world connection that students will find interesting and meaningful.

Rather than a traditional paper, your project will be shared on a wiki at the Virtual Inquiry Wikispace. You will not be posting to Oncourse. Be sure to check the Virtual Inquiry Wikispace for examples from previous semesters.

Quality information inquiry experiences have some of the following elements. Your overview should provide the "big picture" of the entire integrated (content-area connected) unit. Students should have the opportunity to:

This should NOT be a unit that you've developed for another class. Although you can adapt an idea, you should develop original materials. Your lesson should include lots of examples, questions, practice, helpers, and other materials that will guidance the students in their learning. Your overview, lessons, and materials should have the following characteristics:

Project Task

This project should serve as an excellent example for your professional portfolio as evidence of your ability to connect content area and information literacy standards, design learning materials that help students move from novice to skilled information scientist, and create effective, efficient, and appealing learning environments.

Your project should also focus on some aspect of information inquiry that will promote information fluency. In other words, you must develop a single lesson or activity that will help nurture a particular area of information fluency. If you need ideas, go to Thinkfinity. Don't copy a lesson, but it's okay to adapt an idea. Think information INQUIRY. Don't just create a "how to use the library" type unit or a "write a science report" type assignment. BORING! The key to developing the JOY of inquiry-based learning is engaging students in activities that will promote skills in authentic, meaningful ways!

The most difficult part of this project is developing TWO sets of experiences at DIFFERENT grade levels. In other words, how are the needs of a first grader different from the needs of a fourth grader when it comes to evaluating the quality of information sources? How is the depth of questioning different for a third grader and a sixth grader? How is a lesson for a high school freshman English class different from the needs of a senior level social studies class when it comes to recording oral histories? How are the expectations for formatting citations in a reseach paper different for fourth graders and eighth graders?

Your task is to provide a quick overview of two units to provide context of your lesson, a single lesson or a couple mini-lessons, and an analysis of how your approach is different based on the grade level and evolving information skills of the students. Then, provide lessons for TWO different grade levels. These lessons should focus on both a content area and an information standard. In addition, your lessons should teach learners a specific essential information concept or skill. These lessons should include good examples, non-examples, activities, and assessments. If appropriate, they may be self-contained and self-paced. In other words, they could be used with a small group or as needed to differentiate for learning styles or special needs. For example, while some students may understand the concept of cause and effect, others might need the mini-lesson. While some students may not have difficult narrowing their topic, others may need lots of examples and practice.

Your materials should address standard(s) from the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (AASL, 2007, (high resolution PDF or low resolution PDF) as well as at least one content area standard (i.e. Indiana Academic Standards). Try to choose a content-area topic far removed from the topic for the first project. For example, if you chose a social issues topic from your personal inquiry project you might choose science lessons for this project. Your two lessons can focus on the same subject or different topics.

Required Elements

The following elements should be integrated into your project.

Inquiry Skill. Describe a specific information inquiry skill(s) and how the student information scientist evolves from novice to expert. How is this skill(s) reflected in the standards? You may also wish to focus on a subject area skill in addition to the information skill. Cite Callison or other readings as you describe the specific skills or levels of maturation.

Standards for Learning. Be sure to identify standard(s) Standards for the 21st-Century Learner as well as at least one content area standard.

Student Audience. Describe BOTH sets of students. If possible, use a real setting even if you won't be able to implement your lesson. Include general characteristics, class size, grade level, and the instructional setting (small/large school, rural/urban, rich/poor). What entry skills do students have in terms of information literacy? What experiences do they possess? What are their attitudes and interests? What motivates them? How does this impact your approach? How will you connect this learning experience to the "real world"?

Collaboration. Discuss how you would collaborate with a classroom teacher, other librarian, local community members or others. Although it's helpful to identify a "real teacher" for this collaboration, it is not required. If you are currently teaching, feel free to use your own class. However also consider how you might involve the media specialist.

Overview. Provide a brief overview to the 2 grade levels, 2 units, and 2 lessons you've created. Be sure to state the specific information skill you are teaching.

Educator Teaching Materials. Provide a detailed lesson (or short series of mini-lessons) for EACH of the two grade levels that teaches a single concept related to a step in an information process model OR one information skill. Your lesson plan should be in sufficient detail that a substitute teacher could teach the lesson without additional guidance. Include elements such as a detailed outline, a storyboard, timeline, activities, assessments, etc. For example, your lessons should have activities such as springboards, information exploration, active involvement, and closure/transition. Feel free to use whatever "terms" match your planning experience. You may wish to identify roles and responsibilities for each instructor (library media specialist and the classroom teacher). BE SURE that your lesson places emphasis on modeling, scaffolding, and/or meta-cognition. In other words, how are you facilitating the inquiry process? What specific activities will the teacher perform that will guide students through the lesson and help students move to a higher level of understanding? It's not enough to just have students complete activities. The teacher must establish an environment that helps students learn and apply new skills, not just "do research."

If you need help with lesson planning and designing learning environments, read Developing Learning Environments: Planning Effective Lessons (PDF) by Annette Lamb.

Student Learning Materials. Provide a detailed resource for EACH of the two grade levels that will guide students through the learning experience. These materials may include the following elements: introduction/motivation, task, process, information resources, guidance, product guidelines, assessment tool, concluding activities. Include materials that guide learners through the experience (i.e., electronic versions of directions, help sheets, handouts, worksheets, anticipation guide, concept map or other organizational tools)

Student Performance. Provide a description for EACH of the two grade levels of the lesson objectives and expected student performance including a statement of the expectation and a tool for evaluation (i.e., checklist, rubric, quiz). Discuss what evidence you accept as proof that students have successfully mastered the lesson contents. Consider both the product and the process assessments.

Student Models or Products. Include examples for EACH of the two grade levels such as sample products generated by "real" students or samples created yourself.

Feedback OR Field Test. Describe how you will determine the success of the lesson. For example, you might include a chance for students to self-assess or conduct student conferences. Discuss how you will evaluate the unit with a collaborative teacher. Include sample questions or discussion ideas. How will this information help you build an evidence-based program?

Or, rather than describing a system for feedback, try out some aspect of your project on AT LEAST three people. Although it would be best to try it in a "real classroom" or with a small group of students, you may just ask a teacher or peer to review the lesson. Include evidence of this review such as photographs, student assignments, or email comments.

Lesson Comparison. Provide a written discussion of the differences in maturation and depth from one grade level to the other. Discuss how the specific skills you have emphasized in your lessons evolve over time. How are you moving students from one level to the next level in their understanding? Justify your approach. How is the scaffolding that you provide students different at each of the two grade levels? Why? How are the expectations different? Why? How are the roles of the student information scientist and instructional specialist different at teach level? Why? Use specific examples from your lessons in your comparison. Also, cite the specific information standards you addressed in each unit and how they differ between grades.

The following 2 activities should be completed in the week following your assignment posting.

Feedback to Peer in Wiki. Examine the work of your peers. Go to a peer page. Click the DISCUSSION TAB and add a comment providing specific feedback, examples, website resources, books, citations, or other ideas for your classmate. Be sure to provide your name (first name is fine) so I can tell who wrote the comment.

Substantial Wiki Addition. Examine the work of your peers. Go to a DIFFERENT peer page than you used for your feedback. Click the EDIT THIS PAGE option. Scroll to the bottom of the page and add a example for a DIFFERENT GRADE LEVEL that shows a different level of maturation.


If you're still unclear about the expectations, maybe a couple of examples would help. Keep in mind that you must develop your own materials for this project. Use the following projects for inspiration. Notice that in each case, the media specialist is developing learning experiences that will build student skills from year to year.

Idea 1: You're working with a middle school history teacher on a World War II unit. Your lesson deals with visual literacy and interpreting World War II posters. You use the NARA Digital Classroom website for ideas. You're also working with a high school teacher on a unit focusing on the role of photography in the Civil War. How is your approach different with the high school level students? What additional depth in visual literacy skills will be addressed at the high school level?

Idea 2: You're working with freshman English teachers on helping students avoid plagiarism in projects involving local political issues. At the same time you're working with a high school junior level psychology class on a unit related to ethics. Your focused lesson deals with copyright issues and separating fact from opinion related to swapping MP3 music. You use a Computer Ethics WebQuest to see how they made use of roles. How will the freshman English class experiences help lay the foundation for the psychology project a couple years later?

Idea 3: You're working with a second grade teacher on a science and literacy unit related to insects. Use An Insect's Perspective as an example. Notice the use of student pages and a teacher page. The sixth graders also do a unit on insects. How will you ensure that sixth graders don't just review the materials from second grade, but truly refine and enhance their science and information literacy skills? How are your expectations and assignments different at the sixth grade level?

This assignment is totally new. Below I've provided earlier versions of this project. However keep in mind that the requirements have changed dramatically. ONLY use these for ideas, not as guidelines for completing your project.
Go to F2008, S2008, S2009, F2009, S2010, Fall 2010, and S2011.
Go to Demonstration Projects. Go to Project Archives to see lots of examples of an earlier version of this assignment.

Explore the WebQuest Matrix for ideas. Remember, these inquiry-based projects do not need to be done "on the web". The materials can be web or paper-based.

Project Submission

Sharing is an important part of learning. Your project will be shared with your classmates.

You can choose to place all your materials at the wiki using the IMAGE tool to upload pictures as well as documents (i.e., Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint, etc). Or, you may wish to upload materials to your web space (personal, university, or Google Sites). Then make links to your wiki page.

All projects will be submitted to the Virtual Inquiry Wikispace. There are THREE WAYS to add your content to the class wiki. Choose whichever best fits your needs.

Option 1 - Create your own Wikispace, then add a link to our class page (BEST CHOICE)

Option 1

Option 2

Be sure to complete the substantial addition requirement of the project on a peer's page.


The following checklist will be used to evaluate your project. - 30 Points Possible

Project Posting Requirement

Substantial Addition Requirement Part 1

Substantial Addition Requirement Part 2

| SLIS-IUPUI | eduScapes | About | Contact Us | ©2005-2012