LLED 469: Inquiry Unit Plan

My inquiry unit plan is focused on the topic of Refugees. I chose this topic as it is both topical in terms of current events and also relevant to the Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum. An inquiry into refugees and immigrants will also encourage the development of a range of Core Competencies as outlined in the new BC curriculum.

I plan to use this unit in the coming school year with our Grade 4/5 classes. I will meet with the teachers and discuss the inquiry plan, encourage their own input to make changes and/or additions, and then go forth from there to co-teach the unit.

It is my hope that students will finish this unit with a new understanding of what it means to be a refugee and what our role as Canadians is/can be in terms of welcoming and supporting refugees in our communities. I hope that students will develop a new capacity to appreciate multiple perspectives and to be critical thinkers. I believe that this is especially important in the study of this topic when we consider the messages we receive from media. Through this unit I hope that students will be able to bring together their own values and beliefs, combined with new learnings, to develop an attitude of respect and appreciation for diversity. As stated in the Core Competencies, I hope students come away from this unit with values that will encourage them to be change-makers, to be defenders of human rights, and to be able to stand up for what they believe in with confidence and also the evidence to support their beliefs.

It is important that students realize that they can make a difference. You do not need to be an adult, or in a position of power, to make a difference in someone’s life and this is a message that I hope students will come to understand during this inquiry unit.

The following table outlines the Essential Questions of our inquiry. Of course, this does not mean that these are the only questions that will be considered as it is important to be open to the questions that arise from students along the way. The table also lays out the key knowledge that students will learn and the skills they will use, as taken from the new Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum (BC Ministry of Education).

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This unit will also aid in the development of certain Core Competencies as outlined below:

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I am basing the format of this Inquiry Plan on a project I planned collaboratively with a group of 5 other teachers (4 classroom teachers, Indigenous Education Teacher, and myself) at my school a couple of years ago. The Inquiry (entitled Two World Meet), on Indigenous Peoples and the effects of European Exploration, was inspiring for all teachers involved as it illustrated to us the power of both collaboration amongst staff (and students) and the process of Inquiry. Based on the success of that project I plan to follow a similar model for this Inquiry, I have however, made some adjustments based on my own new learnings and on reflections our collaborative group made about our Inquiry journey.

For this Inquiry plan I have decided to use the Inquiry Model that we developed as a staff at Brentwood Elementary a couple of years ago. To create this model we spent time looking at a variety of different models including the BCTLA Points of Inquiry model and the Alberta Learning model in order to then create one that we felt would work best for our community. We also developed our own common definition Inquiry in order that all staff have a common understanding to frame our teaching and learning.

Brentwood Elementary’s Inquiry Definition and Inquiry Model

A personal quest for understanding that begins from a sense of wonder.

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Inquiry Plan Calendar 

As the teacher planning a unit of inquiry it is important to have  a general idea of the time that you have for the Inquiry to unfold. It is equally essential, however, to be able to be flexible and take cues from the students in terms of the planning once the inquiry is underway. Below is a general idea of the time frame of this unit, however, later (as discussed in Stage 2 below) it will be important to take into consideration student input when working out a more specific calendar outlining the inquiry investigation and creation stages.

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It is important to also ensure we help students learn to independently recognize when they are ready to move on through the inquiry stages and to help students understand that we may not all be ready to move on at the exactly the same pace. I very much appreciate the questions included in the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (2014) that encourage students to reflect at the end of each stage on whether they are ready to move on. Before moving onto the Construct stage, for example, one of the questions students are prompted to consider is if they considered more than one perspective in their investigation, an important consideration for our students if we are hoping to teach them to become critical thinkers (New York City School Library System, 2014, p.6). Posting questions such as this one in the room and referring students to these questions before they move stages would be an effective way to help students take responsibility for their own learning.


Stage 1: Invitation – Launch – Exposure – Immersion 

Invitation & Launch 

Students will be invited into this Inquiry Journey on Launch Day. Launch Day is a day in which all students involved in the project are divided into mixed class groupings and rotate through stations taught by the different teachers involved. Each Launch Day station focuses on a word or concept that will prove important to this unit as opposed to specific content itself. Launch Day stations will depend on the number of classes/teachers involved, however, ideally the following stations would be included in the Launch of this Inquiry:

Station Description/Ideas 
Empathy

 

 

 Walk a Mile in My Shoes – Shoebox Activity:

o   Gather 4 or 5 different shoes (that are of different styles, sizes and condition)

o   Create a short story to go for each pair of shoes that is about the owner of those shoes. Include a couple discussion questions as well. Paste story into the lid of the box.

o   Have a student choose a shoebox and read scenario out to the class.

o   Discuss story and discussion questions reflecting on how it might feel to be in that person’s shoes.

o   For more details about this activity see the following blog:http://corneroncharacter.blogspot.ca/2012/07/empathy-in-shoe-box-guest-post.html

Two Sides to Every Story (perspectives)

 

The story Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a great resource for opening a discussion on the importance of considering differing perspectives.
What does it mean to be Inclusive?

 

Ask students if they know what it means to be inclusive. This can be done through a Chalk Talk activity:

o   Write word inclusive on the middle of the white board

o   Then students freely come up to board when there is a marker available and write something up that connects to the word inclusive

o   This activity is done in silence, students freely move from desk to board, but can only write one word/idea each time before having to sit down and wait for another marker to be available

o   Once it seems like students are done, stop and discuss ideas that have been reordered on the board around the concept of inclusiveness

Human Rights

 

 

 

It can be valuable at this point to go over the idea of Human Rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) so that students can use this later to determine whether actions towards refugees and immigrants have always be respectful of this rights. They can consider the question, are these rights truly universal? Some great resources for this topic include:

o   We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International

o   We Are All Born Free short film: https://youtu.be/x9_IvXFEyJo

o   Dreams of Freedom by Amnesty International

o   I Have the Right to be a Child by Alain Serres

o   Every Human Has Rights by National Geographic (available online through National Geographic Kids, a database that our school district has access to through ERAC.)

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Adapted from book How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

Students will have prepared special notebooks to use for Launch Day to record new learnings and to then use throughout the Inquiry Journey. Having dedicated journals for inquiry is important not only for student buy-in but also to acknowledge the fact that all the learning along the way that will be recorded in this journals is just as important as whatever product they may end up with at the conclusion of the journey.

The front of student Field Notebooks will include the message (to the right) to remind students of their role in this inquiry journey. Inquiry is not passive learning, inquiry is an adventure.

 

 

 

Exposure & Immersion

During this stage students will be engaged in inquiry-based lessons to teach some of the necessary content that will help drive their motivation to inquire further into the topic. Before embarking on any inquiry it is important that students are introduced to some content. It is unrealistic to expect that students will be able to jump into inquiry without first having some background knowledge on the subject. The teaching of some content allows students to build a foundation of knowledge. During the teaching of content it is not essential to cover every possible aspect of the topic but just enough to give students a general understanding and to instil in them the motivation to learn more.  During this stage students will be taught lessons that are collaboratively planned by the team of teachers involved and, therefore, lessening the load on any one teacher. Lesson plans can be stored in a shared Google Drive folder for easy access by all teachers.


Stage 2: Wonders – Questions – Focus 

Students will now be almost ready to dive into their inquiry adventure. They have developed a foundation of background knowledge and sparks have been lit in terms of areas of interest. They will be eager to embark on their own inquiries and to delve further into areas that resonated with them. Before beginning this stage, however, it is important to go over certain expectations and skills that will helps students be successful in their Inquiry Journeys and so comes Launch Day II. Launch Day II has a similar structure as the first Launch Day in that students will be back in their mixed class groupings and each teacher will be responsible for delivering one of the stations. The stations for Launch Day II, as well as some ideas for the content of the stations, are described in the following table:

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Preparing for Inquiry Template (for Deep Questions Station): Preparing for Inquiry (developed by our collaboration group during Two Worlds Meet inquiry project, modified to fit this project).

Following Launch Day II students will decide on their Essential Question. They may use one of the Essential Questions shared above, or, if they are eager to use their own Essential Question that will be an option as well. Students will complete the Preparing for Inquiry (see above) reflection when preparing for their Essential Question.

At this time it can also be very valuable to work with students to create a calendar to help structure the next phases of inquiry. This calendar will outline the expected time to be spent on the different aspects of inquiry in order to help students plan their time effectively. It is important to complete this step with students as it gives them a voice in the process and recognizes them as valuable contributors to the learning and planning process. This will lead to a greater sense of ownership over the project as opposed to simply being told what to do, the students are given a voice in the process.


Stage 3: Investigate

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Providing students with investigation folders can be useful in helping students keep all their work together. Field Notebooks can also be stored inside.

Students will now spend time immersed in the investigation stage of inquiry. It is important to recognize that this stage is busy, messy, and can sometimes feel chaotic. What can be so valuable is coordinating investigation times with another class who is also involved in the inquiry as this allows for greater possibilities and collaboration. When you have two classes involved and the teacher librarian you all of a sudden have three adults available and 3 spaces for students to work. The messiness of inquiry can feel so much more manageable when spread amongst the school in different classrooms, the Learning Commons, hallways, and the computer lab. Not only is it more possible for three adults to supervise but to also check in with students about their progress. This collaborative approach to the investigation periods also allow students the opportunity to move outside their classroom walls and to mix with other teachers and students. This makes learning so much more natural and authentic and strengthens the sense of community amongst students in different classes.

Resources

It is important to ensure that students have access to a variety of resources to use in their  inquiry investigation. These resources should be at an appropriate reading level and should also include mixed media formats. For a curated collection of resources for this unit please see the following presentation:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1q5s0ff56ThG1Tz93dMUef8TyjK2u-izC-oirtatRY5U/edit?usp=sharing 

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Inquiry Resource Bins

During our Two Worlds Meet Inquiry project we organized our resources in resource bins. We found this to be a practical way to store resources as it allowed for easy sharing amongst the multiple classes using the resources. Resources were put in bins based on theme and could be easily used by individual or small groups of students. These resources bins included both text resources and physical artifacts that were related to the different inquiry questions.

In addition to the Resource Bins it is important to provide opportunities for online investigation. These online resources can be accessed by students in a variety of ways, either at school in the Computer Lab or on the school iPads, or at home. On our Learning Commons website I have collected websites that are applicable to the different projects students are engaging in and this acts like a digital Resource Bin in that they can go to the website and be guided to age appropriate resources.

We also have access to a variety of online databases that can be accessed through our Learning Commons websites. These databases are very valuable and it is important that students are taught about how to use them prior to the investigation stage of inquiry so that they are able to independently navigate the sites for information relevant to their Essential Questions.

Formative Assessment

Assessment during the investigation phase involves observations and conversations with students. This formative assessment is casual but ongoing and can be done by the teachers, teacher-librarian, and the students themselves. It is valuable to discuss with students what ‘on task’ behaviour during investigation periods looks like and this discussion could lead to the creation of an on task inquiry behaviour checklist established collaboratively with students. This checklist could be posted in the classroom and referred back to throughout the process in order to reflect on how students are doing. Students are expected to begin taking responsibility for their own learning, and as teachers it is our role to help guide students in this process. One on one discussions throughout the investigation period can be very valuable in terms of assessing how students are doing and what support they may be needing.


Stage 4: Create – Construct 

Students will be creating an artifact to share their inquiry learning. The format that the artifact will take is up to each student. It is important to allow students the opportunity to have choice in their learning and one way to do that is to allow them to choose how they would like to share their learning based on their own interests and strengths. Students may decide to create a poster, a Google slides presentation, a powerpoint, a model, a video, a game, a lapbook… the options are (almost) limitless. Using our school set of iPads students may also choose to use one of the apps to share their inquiry. Some tools we have found very effective and user friendly for our elementary students include Adobe Spark Video, Draw and Tell, ChatterPix Kids, Popplet, PicCollage, and also the iPad camera itself to film or take pictures of learning. It is important to have discussions with student in terms of what they will be creating and to help students make a plan for how they will carry out their goal. Teaching students to plan is an important part of helping students take responsibility for their learning.


Stage 5: Share – Present – Take Action – Transfer 

Share & Present

When students engage in inquiry they become invested in their learning and are, typically, excited to have the opportunity to share their new knowledge with others. There are many different formats that this sharing can take, one such option being sharing through an Inquiry Museum. In an Inquiry Museum other classes as well as community members would be invited to see the students’ learning and to talk to the students about their inquiry journeys. I think it is important to remember that while the students will all have their final artifact to display it is just as important to display the work students did along the way – as that work is such an integral part of the inquiry process. Displaying student Field Notebooks (in which students recorded learning throughout unit) would help to demonstrate the journey, as well as displaying pictures of the students engaged in different parts of the journey. As we teach our students that inquiry is more about the process than the final result it is important that we also communicate this to families who may be more accustomed to the traditional summative mark on a final project as opposed to taking into consideration the work that happened to get there.

Take Action – Transfer – Reflect 

Inquiry does not just end with the final product, much like it does not begin that way. It is imperative that students are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning and the new understandings reached through the inquiry process. The reflection process would also be very valuable if it included a chance for students to reflect on the Core Competencies used during the process. Inquiry and Core Competencies go hand in hand and I believe that encouraging students to reflect on the interconnectedness of the competencies with the inquiry process would be valuable as it shows students that these competencies are a natural part of learning and not actually something new.  Students should be able to highlight each core competency with an “I Can” statement which they would then support with evidence from their inquiry. For example, for the competency of Communication a student may reflect saying, “I can share new information I have learned with an audience” and support that with evidence about sharing his/her inquiry journey with peers and community members at the Inquiry Museum.

It is also important to allow the community an opportunity to reflect on the learning they gained from attending the Inquiry Museum and speaking with the students about their learning. This not only gives visitors a chance to reflect but also demonstrates to students that they have an important role in teaching others and that though they may be children, they have so much to share with their peers and community. An example of one way to achieve this community reflection is though a post it wall such as the one illustrated below. For a previous Inquiry Museum at our school we encouraged visitors to consider three questions at the conclusion of their visit and while a different topic, I believe that these same questions would be relevant to this inquiry project on refugees.

  • What have we learned from the past?
  • What are we doing in the present?
  • What can we hope for the future?

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Summative Assessment

The summative assessment of an Inquiry project is not what may be seen as a traditional final assessment. It is made up of the formative assessment from along the course of the journey as well as the students’ self reflections. It can also be valuable to include a written comment based on the final artifact, perhaps in the form of Two Stars and a Wish. Fontichiaro (2011), in her article “Nudging Toward Inquiry: Summative Assessment” suggests using creating a rubric to assess inquiry in that rubrics can provide students with detailed feedback while being less time consuming than writing written comments for each student (p. 12). I believe that in order to make the rubric more effective, however, it should be collaboratively created with students. This gives students a voice in the assessment process which, in turn, will lead to the assessment being more meaningful.  We do not give letter grades in grades 4 and 5 in our school district and so this is not something that I would assign to an inquiry project. Not only because it is not a requirement, but also because it is simply not useful for students and their learning.


Conclusion

I look forward to having the opportunity to work collaboratively with our Grade 4/5 team to bring this inquiry to life in the coming school year. The inquiry journey is one that leaves a lasting impact on those involved in terms of the learning that results and the opportunities for authentic collaboration. While this plan lays out the groundwork for the inquiry unit, it is important, that as teachers, we remain flexible throughout the process. We must remain cognizant of the fact that inquiry is about the journey, and while a journey can be planned to some degree, journeys can also take unexpected twists and turns. We must be willing to go with our students and follow their lead as they learn to immerse themselves in the inquiry process.

 


Professional Resources Mentioned:

Alberta Learning. (2004). Focus on Inquiry. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Learning.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. BC’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/social-studies/5

Ekdahl, M., Farquharson M., Robinson, J., and Turner, L. (2010). Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st Century Learner. Vancouver, BC: BCTF/ BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011b). Nudging toward inquiry – Summative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(7): 12-13.

Gear, A. (2008). Nonfiction reading power. Markam, ON: Pembroke Publishers.

Gruener, B. (2012, July 27). Empathy in a (shoe) box guest post (web log post). Retrieved June 10, 2017 from http://corneroncharacter.blogspot.ca/2012/07/empathy-in-shoe-box-guest-post.html

New York City School Library System. (2014). Empire state information fluency continuum: Benchmark skills for grades k-12 assessment/common core alignment. Retrieved from http://www.slsa-nys.org/files/1674412/empire%20ifc.pdf 

Rothstein, D. & Santana, L. (2011). Teaching students to ask their own questions: One small change can yield big results. Harvard Education Letter 27(5): 1-2. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing.

Inquiry Resources

Amnesty International. (2008). We are all born free: The universal declaration of human rights in pictures. London, UK: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Brentwood Learning Commons. Retrieved from https://brentwood.sd63.bc.ca/course/view.php?id=68

Amnesty International. (2008, November 20). Everybody – we are all born free (video file). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/x9_IvXFEyJo 

Harris, A. (2013). I wonder. Four Elephants Press.
Krouse Rosenthal, A. (2009). Duck! rabbit! San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Robinson, Mary. Every Human Has Rights. National Geographic Society, 2009. National Geographic Kids, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4wq9W6. Accessed 17 June 2017.

Serres, A. (2012). I have the right to be a child. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.

Smith, Keri. (2008). How to be an explorer of the world: Portable life museum. New York, NY: Penguin Books

Torrey, R. (2010). Why? New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Additional Resources listed and annotated in Top 10 Resources for Refugee Inquiry presentation found at the following link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1q5s0ff56ThG1Tz93dMUef8TyjK2u-izC-oirtatRY5U/edit?usp=sharing

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LLED 469 – Learning Log #4

Emily Style’s (1988) article, “Curriculum as Window and Mirror,” was written 29 years ago, and yet, it shares a belief that is so incredibly relevant in today’s society. Our job, as educators, is to help foster the development of citizens of our world. Not an insignificant responsibility by any means. Style speaks of the importance of looking beyond our own communities when teaching our children, and instead considering the fact that we must educate our children to live in the “global context, facing vast differences and awesome similarities” that are present in our global community (p. 5). Today, almost three decades after this article was written, this is even more important. Our world is getting smaller as we become more and more connected through technology and it is no longer enough to just educate our students on a local level, we must open up our classroom windows to the world.

As Style (1988) emphasizes, it is essential that we provide students with a learning experience and curriculum that “mirrors their own experience back to them” (p. 5). Allowing all our students to see themselves in the curriculum we teach is so important as it illustrates to children that their story is important and that they belong. When I read this I connected immediately to a Grade 3 Inquiry project I have been involved with at my school this year. The collaborative effort between two classroom teachers, our Indigenous Education teacher, and myself, has proved to be one of the most meaningful projects I have been a part of. Our school is located on the land of the W̱SÁNEĆ people and 20% of our students are Indigenous. We see it as a priority at our school to ensure that all students, including our Indigenous students, see themselves reflected back in the curriculum. With the new curriculum we worked collaboratively to develop an inquiry on our local Indigenous community with an emphasis on oral story telling. We are fortunate to have some amazing resources at our school including old pictures from the W̱SÁNEĆ community and we were able to use these in our unit. As our Indigenous Education teacher shared some of these pictures with our students it was incredible to see our students light up and exclaim, “hey, he is my uncle!” or “he is part of my family!” We heard from the aunt of one of our students that at dinner one night her niece excitedly shared about the project and how she had been learning about her W̱SÁNEĆ ancestors. The aunt, who shared this with us, was so incredibly touched by the dinner time conversation and the pride in her niece’s voice as she shared what she was learning about at school.

Not only is it important for students to see themselves reflected back in the curriculum, but it is equally essential, as Style (1988) notes, that the curriculum opens the “windows into the experience of others” for our students (p. 5). Learning about the experiences of others, whether that be our non-Indigenous students learning about the Indigenous peoples on whose land we live, or our students learning about the experiences of others from different countries in our world, allows for the development of empathy, understanding, and appreciation of diversity, qualities that are so essential in a peaceful and inclusive society.

 


Assessment of Inquiry is something that has been the topic of much discussion amongst colleagues as of late. While most have jumped on board the inquiry bandwagon in that they understand it is the way we are headed (and rightly so) many still feel quite insecure when it comes to developing appropriate ways in which they can meaningfully assess inquiry in their classrooms. For some, this serves as a roadblock to actually giving inquiry a chance. I think it is extremely unfortunate when teachers avoid trying something new simply because they do not feel 100% confident with it. We expect our students to try new things and, as such, I believe that we, as teachers, need to model this behaviour ourselves by being open to new practices and ideas.  As teacher-librarian I can help aid this foray into the unknown by supporting teachers through the process. While I too am still learning, I try and model that it is ok not to know everything before trying something new – in fact, it is impossible to know everything.

The most important aspect of the assessment of inquiry that we must realize is that it is about the process – not simply about the end result. When we assess learning based on the process we are assessing what is meaningful, the learning along the way. We are assessing how students respond to challenges, how their thinking changes, and their ability to persevere. We are assessing in a much more natural way, and we are making assessment meaningful to each individual child. When we only focus on the end result we are disregarding the journey each student took to get to the end. We are sending the message that it is not how far you’ve come that matters, but only where you ended up. This is not personalized learning, this is not being cognizant of each individual’s learning journey.

Simply focusing on summative assessment also contradicts our teaching about growth mindsets. We have done a lot of work at our school teaching Dweck’s  (2006) research of Growth vs. Fixed Mindsets and it has become a common language amongst all our staff and students. If we truly believe in the growth mindset idea, however, it is essential that we embrace formative assessment practices. As Fontichario (2011) writes, the use of formative assessment helps students to understand that their “current level of skill” is by no means a permanent reflection of their capabilities (p. 11). Solely focusing on summative assessment can cause students to become so fixated on those final marks and, consequently, disregard the process that got them there. It is, however, becoming more and more imperative that our students understand that the process of learning is just as, if not more, important than the end result. As Moreillon and Fontichiario (2008) write,  “unlike students of the past, who could rely on a relatively stable world of work upon graduation, today’s graduating students are entering a world of unknown opportunities, challenges and potential pitfalls” (p. 65). As such, it is essential that we prepare our students for today’s world by helping them take responsibility and ownership over their own learning, something that can come when we make assessment an ongoing and  collaborative practice.

Louis and Harada (2012), in their article, “Did Students Get It? Self-Assessment as Key to Learning” outline ways to make assessment more collaborative through including students in the creation of rubrics. This simple adjustment of writing a rubric with students has powerful results in that students come away knowing that they are “trusted partners in assessment” which leads to students learning “more deeply” and having a “greater motivation to improve” (Louis & Harada, 2012, p. 16). Through keeping the lines of communication open between students and teachers when it comes to assessment, we move away from assessment being something that comes as a surprise at the end of an assignment or term but instead as an ongoing process that students participate in and no longer fear or become preoccupied by.

I very much appreciated Buerkett’s (2011) article, “Inquiry and Assessment Using Web 2.0 Tools,” as this is something I have yet to delve into. I especially am interested in investigating the tool Wallwisher as I believe it would prove very useful in the classroom. The idea that students can easily post a question that all his/her classmates can see and then the teacher can provide a response that is also accessible to everyone would, I believe, prove very useful during the inquiry process. Not only would it save the time of answering the same question multiple times, but it would also allow students (and teachers) the chance to share ideas, successes, challenges, and helpful resources throughout the inquiry process that could be easily accessed by everyone. Authentic learning is a collaborative process and a tool like Wallwisher would help to make collaboration possible through an online forum and not simply during school hours.

When reading Moreillon and Fontichiario’s (2008) article, “Teaching and Assessing the Dispositions: A Garden of Opportunity,” I began making connections to the new Core Competencies in BC’s curriculum. The Core Competencies, similar to the idea of the dispositions discussed in this article, are skills that we hope to encourage in our students in order to nurture the development of life long learners. The competencies of Communication, Thinking (Creative and Critical), and Personal and Social are skills that students practice in school everyday but the idea behind the Core Competencies is that we help students become aware of these skills and give them the language to discuss, assess, and reflect on their own development in these areas throughout their school years. As Moreillon and Fontichiario emphasize, it is important that we be “explicit about dispositions when we see students demonstrate them” (p. 67). Similarly students will only be able to reflect on their development of the Core Competencies if we help students become aware of when they are using the skills by naming them when we see them being used. Core Competencies are an aspect of the new curriculum that are never intended to be assessed by teachers, solely by students. I think it will be interesting to see how this changes our students as learners and if it encourages students to take more responsibility for their own learning and growth in the years to come.

 

References

British Columbia Ministry of Education. BC’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/social-studies/5

Buerkett, R. (2011). Inquiry and assessment using Web 2.0 tools. School Library Monthly 28(1): 21-24.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House.

Fontichiaro, K. (2011a). Nudging toward inquiry – Formative assessment. School Library Monthly 27(6): 11-12.

Louis, P. & Harada, V. H. (2012). Did the students get it? Self-assessment as key to learning. School Library Monthly 29(3): 13-16.

Moreillon, J. & Fontichiaro, K. (2008). Teaching and assessing the dispositions: A garden of opportunity. Knowledge Quest 37(2): 64-67.

Style, E. (1988). Curriculum as window & mirror. Listening for all Voices. Oak Knoll School monograph. Summit, NJ. The SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Wellesley Centres for Women.

LLED 469: Curation of Inquiry Resources

As Teacher-Librarian I am trusted with the role of purchasing new resources for our library. This is a big responsibility when you think about it – managing a budget, making sure it stretches to last the year, ensuring that the resources purchased are appropriate to the curriculum, our students reading levels, and our diverse population. There is also the great importance of listening to what our community wants to read, having conversations with students and staff in order to ensure our library is reflective of the reading needs and wants of those using it. As teacher-librarians it is also important that we recognize and overcome our own biases when it comes to purchases books. I, for example, have always preferred reading fiction over non-fiction and, as such, I could very easily favour the purchasing of fiction as I know that is what I like. I have been very careful, however, to recognize this bias and to ensure that I am not considering my preferences, but the needs of our community as a whole.

This year I have found myself very much engaged in the topic of immigration and refugees. It is something that is extremely topical and also aligns with the Grade Five Social Studies curriculum. We can also find important links to discussions on immigrants and refugees within the new Core Competencies. I have decided to focus my collection on resources that could support an inquiry on the topic of immigration and refugees as I believe this will be something that I can use with students while also being something I personally feel is so important.

There are a great deal of resources available on the topic of refugees and, therefore, great thought was put into the creation of this collection of Top 10 Resources. Each work was evaluated based on criteria laid out in the attached presentation and I feel confident that the included resources would greatly enhance student learning, engagement, and, most importantly, curiosity, as students delve into an inquiry on the refugee experience.

Please see my Top 10 Resource Collection for an inquiry on Immigration here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1q5s0ff56ThG1Tz93dMUef8TyjK2u-izC-oirtatRY5U/edit?usp=sharing

Or as a PDF document:  Refugees – Inquiry Resources

LLED 469 – Learning Log #3: Loving the Questions

Modules 7 & 8

I would like to begin with the last article I read. With the last notes I wrote for this module because, while I came across these words last, they are what resonated most strongly with me in terms of the overarching reason behind the importance of developing cultures of inquiry in our schools. In his article “Questioning as Technology” Jamie McKenzie (2003) writes of the dangers of a society in which citizens do not question the status quo. “An unquestioning mind is condemned to ‘feeding’ on the ideas or solutions of others” whereas in a democratic society, where questioning is nurtured, citizens will be empowered to “challenge authority to do the most good for the most people” (McKenzie, 2003, para. 5-6). Furthermore, it is essential that the encouragement and nurturing of questioning minds begins at a young age as “questions enable the next generations to make changes in society, to invent new and better ways of doing things” (McKenzie, 2003, para. 8). While McKenzie wrote this article almost fifteen years ago, I believe that it is just as, if not more relevant, in today’s society.  Inquiry, with questioning at the heart, will not only lead to more engaged learners but to more engaged and proactive citizens, something our world so desperately needs.

Evidently, questioning and inquiry is not a new phenomenon, older still than 15 years when McKenzie wrote his article. In Alberto Manguel’s (2015) book, Curiosity, he speaks of German philosopher, writer, and composer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and how he, in the 17th century, recognized the necessity that schools be places where “imagination and reflection were given free range” (p. 32). Without these components (so critical to inquiry), the education system would simply turn out jello mold citizens, one exactly the same as the next, citizens who, as said Rousseau, are prepared only to be “chained up by our institutions,” (as cited in Manguel, 2015, p.32) as opposed to proactive, innovative citizens who are capable of thinking for themselves.

As explained throughout this module, inquiry leads to greater engagement. Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana’s (2011) article, “Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions” emphasizes the fact that giving students the opportunity to ask their own questions will lead to  meaningful ownership of their learning, a strengthening of comprehension, and will enable students to “make new connections and discoveries on their own” (para. 3). Questioning also serves as a tool that can deconstruct past ideas and, as Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (2005) write, good questions can lead us to “rethink what we thought we understood” (p. 107). Students are not empty vessels in need of being filled and school is not meant to be a place where one is spoon fed information to be memorized. On the contrary an effective education, is one in which students are encouraged to question, curiosity is nurtured, and students are taught to be critical thinkers and compassionate, active citizens in our world.

In order for inquiry to truly lead to greater engagement, however, it is vital that the
essential questions matters to students and connect with their lives. Obscure questions that are disconnected from students themselves will not lead to the benefits seen when students find deep connections with the questions themselves. The title of Jeffrey D. Wilhelm’s (2014) article, “Learning to Love the Questions” really does say it all. We want students to love questions. To become excited by the unknowns, to be comfortable with diving into the murkiness of possibility in cf9159c05c338d293cc57fa176468d6border to come to their own truths. I was especially excited to see the title of Wilhelm’s article as it reminded me of a quote I came across back in December, at a time I happened to be facing many questions. I was on my way home from Salta, Argentina where I had been living for ten months and had a mind full of wonders as to what being ‘home’ again would bring. When I came across the work of poet, Ranier Maria Rilke I felt more at peace with the questions in my heart. He wrote,  “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves” (as cited in Popova, 2012, para. 3). For the rest of my blog entry, written from the airport in Buenos Aires back in December, see here: Learning to Live (and Love) the Questions.


I very much agree with Fontichiaro (2009) in terms of the fact that there is a “gap between knowing inquiry’s value and putting it into practice” (p. 17). I think it is safe to say that the majority of today’s teachers understand that inquiry is the direction we are headed (and for good reason!) but some are having difficulty taking the ‘plunge’ to change what they have always done in order to delve into what may seem somewhat foreign. Despite substantial professional development in this area there are still teachers who are hesitant and I believe that Fontichiaro’s suggestion of “nudging towards inquiry” would be very valuable for these individuals (p. 18). Creating a culture of inquiry in your classroom does not have to mean a huge monumental change in all that you do, it can begin small and it can be the teacher-librarians who help give the little nudge that may be needed. As Fontichiaro writes, once teachers begin to see the positive impact even a few small changes can make to the engagement of their students then they may be more willing to take another step in the inquiry direction (p. 18). I very much appreciate the table of ideas for nudging lessons towards inquiry that is included in Fontichiaro’s article as it illustrates some simple ways to tweak a unit from the more traditional research style to something with greater student involvement and engagement (p. 19). In order for a teacher-librarian to effectively help staff nudge towards inquiry it is essential that a relationship of trust is developed between the TL and his/her colleagues. It is from this relationship of trust that will arise a willingness to collaborate and try new things.

Fontichiaro and Green’s (2010) suggest beginning with a book to jump start the inquiry process and I believe that this can be very effective. As they state using books serve to  “awaken authentic questions related to the research topic” (Fontichiaro & Green, p. 22). It is important to remember that the book need not be non-fiction, a well chosen fiction picture book can be just as effective, if not more so. I appreciate Fontichiaro and Green’s discussion that in inquiry a final project is not always necessary. Sometimes the focus is on the process of “developing questions, seeking answers, and sharing what was learned” (Fontichiaro & Green, 2010, p. 23) as opposed to the development of a fancy final product. These steps are so important and need to be practised. Inquiry is, after all, so much more about this process than about the end result. I think that some teachers can become overwhelmed when they think of inquiry as they believe it needs to culminate in a big final show, this is not, however, what it is all about.

In terms of helping guide our students to ask deep questions I believe that the Question Formulation Technique, as laid out in Rothstein and Santana’s (2011) article, can be a very worthwhile strategy. As I was reading though the strategy I was reminded of an activity our staff engaged in at a recent professional development workshop we had with local teacher and author, Trevor MacKenzie. In this activity, MacKenzie had us work in groups with our colleagues to first come up with a topic, and then write down as many questions we could think of that were related. As written in the QFT strategy we did not stop to try and answer the questions as we wrote, nor did we judge a question in terms of whether it was a ‘good’ question or not. We simply brainstormed as a group and came up with a full page of questions. Following this activity we went into the discussion of closed vs. open questions, or thick vs. thin. We then practised changing some questions from one form to another, again, as outlined in the QFT. At this point we prioritized our questions. I found this strategy to be very effective. Sometimes the thought of coming up with the perfect essential question can be overwhelming but this practice, of starting out with as many questions as you can, gets your mind working and helps to lead you eventually to that one quality question that will become your focus.

Our world is changing, and, as such, the way we teach must change too. As Allison Zmuda (2013) writes, “many educators continue to train students to live in a predictable world” (p.10) and yet all we need to do is turn on the news or check our Twitter feeds to know that the world today is far from a predictable place. If we hope to prepare our students to live and thrive in today’s society, and moving forward, it is essential that we embrace the beautiful messiness of inquiry in our schools.


References

Fontichiaro, K. (2009). Nudging toward inquiry – Re-envisioning existing research projects. School Library Monthly 26(1): 17-19.

Fontichiaro, K. & Green, J. (2010). Jump-start inquiry: How students begin when they don’t know. School Library Monthly 26(5): 22-23.

Manguel, A. (2015). Curiosity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

McKenzie, Jamie. (2003). Questioning as Technology. FNO.ORG From Now On: The Educational Technology Journal 12(8).

Popova, M. (2012). Live the questions: Rilke on embracing uncertainty and doubt as a stabilizing force. Retrieved from https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/01/rilke-on-questions/

Rothstein, D. & Santana, L. (2011). Teaching students to ask their own questions: One small change can yield big results. Harvard Education Letter 27(5): 1-2. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Publishing.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Chapter 5, “Essential Questions: Doorways to Understanding?” Understanding by Design (pp. 105-125). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wilhelm, J. D. (2014). Learning to love the questions. Knowledge Quest 42(5): 36-41.

Zmuda, A. (2013). CCSS (Common Core State Standards): A window and fresh air for learning. School Library Monthly 29(4): 9-12.

LLED 469 – Learning Log #2

Module 5 – Selecting Resources for Inquiry 

There is no doubt that the role of today’s teacher-librarians is incredibly multi-faceted. From teaching and collaborating, to organizing school events and professional opportunities to staff. From maintaining the physical space of the library learning commons to the selecting, evaluating and purchasing of new resources. While a job that includes all these different aspects may be seen as overwhelming, it can also be seen as a job of great privilege as we are in the unique position to make an impact in our schools in a wide variety of ways.

Inquiry and resources for inquiry seem to be a common topic of late. I have found some teachers using an apparent lack of resources as an excuse to not fully engage in inquiry. I find it interesting, however, as when you then talk to these teachers about the resources that they need to make it possible they do not really have an answer leading me to believe that it is just an easy excuse to not make the effort to step outside what they have always done in order to try something new. Fortunately this is not the case for all teachers.

As teacher-librarian I do all I can to ensure that resources (or lack thereof) do not stand as a road block to inquiry. As emphasized in the article, “Looking to the Future: Providing Resources to Support 21st Century Learning” (2008) our key priority in purchasing new resources should be on “what the users are seeking” (Zmuda & Harada, p. 104). In order to keep up with what resources colleagues are needing I have started a Google Docs form that I regularly send out for teachers to add any new resources they are hoping for in the library. I encourage them to put specific titles or simply a topic that they need more resources about. I find that this system works to some degree as long as I remind teachers of it on a regular basis.

With our current new curriculum we are at an especially important time in terms of the selecting and purchasing of resources. Many topics have changed grade levels making some older resources no longer relevant. Zmuda and Harada (2008) emphasize the importance of teacher librarians having a “deep understand of the curriculum taught” (p. 104) and I believe this to be true, now, more than ever. Thankfully teacher-librarians do not often work in isolation and I am fortunate in our school district to be part of an extremely supportive and collaborative group of teacher-librarians who meet monthly to discuss and share a wide range of issues including that of resources.

In addition to providing resources to support the curriculum we must ensure our libraries are reflective of the recreational reading needs of our community. Libraries should be places that encourage a love of reading and bringing in books that our students are excited about reading will help achieve this goal. Zmuda and Harada (2008) further support the importance of getting student input and I try and do this often through the use of a book suggestion box and just by talking to the students. Just the other day I had a student wondering if there were any more books in a certain series he loved and so together we did some research and discovered that yes in fact there were. So we ordered them and the following week they arrived in the library. Seeing his excited face as these new books (that he, personally, had requested!) came out of the box was one of those special moments that I will not soon forget.

This module provided a look into the more technical aspects of resource selection. I believe that it is important that teachers have a certain degree of autonomy when it comes to the resources they use in their classrooms. As teachers we are professionals and as such it is right that we should have this autonomy. At the same time, however, there is a responsibility to ensure that the resources that are chosen are ones that comply with district policies. Resources such as the ERAC “Evaluating, Selecting, and Acquiring Resources: A Guide” (2008) provide a beneficial guideline to use when purchasing resources as it encourages one to consider factors that may not otherwise have been. I am doubtful, however, as to the use of the evaluation forms included in the resources. They are incredibly detailed and while for some major purchases this may be useful I do not see it as being a practical tool for every new book or resource purchased. While the factors they encourage you to consider are of value I am curious as to when/how these actual forms are being used by schools and districts as I have not heard of anyone using them.

IMAGE-cover-authentic-resources-2016-08While teachers autonomy is so important it can, at times, be very helpful to have guides to refer to when bringing in new content. One such guide that I am currently very excited about is the “FNESC Authentic First Peoples Resources” (2016) that I received at our district Enhancement Agreement Meeting a few weeks ago. This guide includes an annotated bibliography of Indigenous resources that have been selected by FNESC based on their authenticity and relevancy to K-9 curriculum content. I plan to use this guide to further enhance our Indigenous content in the library.

A discussion of resources in today’s day and age is not complete without a look at the vast selection of resources available online. As Zmuda and Harada (2008) emphasize, while students today may be “digital natives” they still need to be taught how to be critical thinkers when using online resources (p. 109). In addition to purchasing books for our library I maintain our Learning Commons website, adding websites for teachers on different topics that they would like their students to have access to. Libraries are no longer solely composed of the resources stored within the physical space, but also online. We are also part of the ERAC consortium which gives us access to various online databases for our students to use.

This issue of Copyright is one that I believe teachers must be familiar with, but I am wary as to how many teachers are in fact aware of the specific terms as outlines in the Copyright Matters! guide. We do have copies of this guide in our school, however, I am not sure it is often referred to. When looking through this resource I do believe it is very valuable in terms of the information it offers but also in the layout of the Table of Contents which is framed by common questions teachers may have. I believe that a reviews of the policies in this guide would be useful to all staff, especially in terms of copyright issues related to online resources as the use of these resources is something that is still quite new to many staff. As teacher-librarian I am considering the possibility of beginning our new school year in September with a short overview of this guide for staff and a reminder of the policies that are outlined.

Module Six: Evaluating and Curating Online Resources

As I mentioned above, students today are, indeed, very comfortable in the online world. Much more so than any other generation that has come before. While it may seem they are intuitive when it comes to how to use technology they do still require instruction when it comes to appropriate use of this vast online world that is available at their fingertips. As such, it is important that as educators we provide this instruction to our students and encourage them to become critical thinkers. Debbie Abilock, in her article “How Students Know Whether the Information They Find Online is True True or Not?” (2012) enforces the fact that this instruction cannot (and should not) come in the form of a one off lesson at the start of the year. Approaching it in this way will not lead to the development of “life long learning” in the area of critical thinking and the ability to be evaluative of the resources used (Abilock, 2012, p. 71). On the contrary, it is necessary that this is an ongoing discussion in our classrooms and libraries, starting at a young age.

Many times in elementary school we provide our students with specific websites that we have pre-approved for use during inquiry. This saves time (which can be ever so valuable) and allows students the opportunity to dive right in. I am hesitant, however, if this is serving our students well as they will not always be spoon fed resources in this way. As I consider this dilemma I refer back to Abilock (2012) as she states that the time and patience to analyze every resource is not always a luxury afforded in the classroom (especially when a class may only have access to the computer lab or set of tablets for a couple periods a week) and as a result, I believe it is ok to sometimes do the evaluation work for our students. This is not to say that there should not be times where it is left up to the students as it is through teaching these skills that they will be able to become proficient at it as they grow and enter high school where they will be expected to do it for themselves. Jennifer Bromann-Bender (2013), in her article “You Can’t Fool Me: Website Evaluation,” outlines an extremely comprehensive method through which to teach and practice website evaluation with older students and I believe that some ideas from this could be transferred for use with elementary students and this is something I plan to delve further into in preparation for the new school year.

The use of subscription databases as inquiry resources was another aspect that I took away from this module. As Jennifer Bromann-Bender (2013) discovered in her work with teaching website evaluation students often came away with a new appreciation for the reliable information they can find in subscription databases available through their schools as this information is much more trustworthy than much of what you may find through a Google search (p. 42). Our school district is part of the ERAC consortium and, as such, we have access to a wide variety of subscription databases. These databases can be accessed through our Learning Commons website and students are able to use them at school or at home (with a password). When I first became Teacher Librarian at my school I was unaware of these databases and soon learned that so were most teachers. I then ensured I spent time teaching the teachers how to use the databases and what was available. As a result they are now being used much more frequently at our school. The value of these databases is that they contain information we can trust, at an age appropriate level. They also include features such as “read to me” which can be easily used by students who may struggle with reading or simply prefer to the auditory transmission of information.

The discussion of curation is also of great importance, especially so when there is so much information out there on the world wide web. As I have mentioned, I use the Learning Commons website to save websites for teachers/students that I have already pursued. Organized into categories this allows students to access them easily at home or school. Joyce Valenza’s article (2014) also got me thinking about how we curate apps for our set of iPads. As of yet, I do not have a specific system that I am using, however, I look forward to exploring some of the different platforms suggested by Valenza such as edshelf and Symbaloo.

There is no doubt that selecting, evaluating, and curating resources are important aspects of our job as Teacher-Librarians. Modules Five and Six have left me with many ideas to consider in terms of my own school community and how we can ensure that the best practices are being employed in these areas.


References

Abilock, D. (2012). How can students know whether the information they find online is true – or not? Educational Leadership 69(6): 70-74.

Bromann-Bender, J. (2013). You can’t fool me: Website evaluation.” Library Media Connection 31(5): 42-45.

Noel, W. & Snel, J. (2016). Copyright matters! (4th edition). Ottawa, ON: Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC), Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA), and Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF).

Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium (ERAC). (2008). Evaluating, selecting and acquiring learning resources: A guide. Vancouver, BC: ERAC.

First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association. (2016). Authentic first peoples resources (2nd edition). Vancouver, BC:  First Nations Education Steering Committee.

Valenza, J. (2014). Librarians wanted for smashing, blending, toolkit building. In Neverending Search (blog, July 26, 2014). School Library Journal.

Zmuda, A. & Harada, V. H. (2008). Looking to the future: Providing resources to support  21st century learning. Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st century (pp. 103-115). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

 

LLED 469 – Learning Log #1

Let me begin this Learning Log with an inquiry question of my own… who (in their right mind) takes a course during the last 5 weeks of the school year? Yes, I will honestly admit that I feel as though I may have bitten off more than I can chew as we all know the rush to the end of the school year can be compared to somersaulting down a long grassy hill at top speed without being able to stop until – BANG – June 30th hits and you realize you survived (and most likely get sick as your body finally has a chance to relax which also tends to be the moment you let your defences down enough that a lovely cold feels comfortable settling in.) In any case, here I am, with all of you, ready to navigate through this busy time and despite feeling somewhat overwhelmed I am also excited at the prospect of beginning my 7th course in the Teacher Librarian Diploma, not only because it means I am getting closer to my goal of completing the program but also because the topic of this course is one I am very passionate about, both as a teacher and learner.

FullSizeRender 55

A Table of Contents composed of Inquiry Questions… it does not get much better than this.

Last night I began reading a book by Alberto Manguel entitled Curiosity. While I probably should have been spending that time continuing to read through course material I quickly realized that the book, in itself, is a proponent for an inquiring mindset and it seems entirely too coincidental that I should begin this book at the same time as engaging in this course on inquiry. As such, I would like to begin with a few words from Manguel’s book that I couldn’t help but jot down as I read.

Manguel emphasizes the importance of questions in the lives of children writing, “they are as essential to the mind as movement is to the physical body” (2015, p. 32). He challenges teachers to “establish for them (children) a space of mental freedom in which they can exercise their imagination and their curiosity, a place in which they can learn to think” (Manguel, 2015, p. 50). Don’t those words just fill you with excitement? Don’t they just frame for you the reason we are here? The reason that we, as teachers, have to ensure our classrooms are places of inquiry and where this is not only taught but nurtured? Because, as Manguel goes on to write, children “have to be able to imagine with no constraints before they can bring anything truly valuable into being” (2015, p. 32) and I believe that it is through an inquiry mindset that we can give our students the freedom to imagine and to see imagination not as a frivolous afterthought but as an essential component to learning and discovery. Curiosity and imagination do, after all, come naturally to children and as teachers we must nurture this, not suppress. I look forward to continuing through Manguel’s book throughout this course as I believe it strongly compliments the topic while also working to stretch my thinking in new ways.

I am thankful to work at a school and for a district where Inquiry has been a strong focus in recent years. I think there are very few that are left unsure of the answer behind the ‘why inquiry?’ question. That is not to say we have incorporated inquiry completely and perfectly into every aspect of our schools but I am confident in saying that the majority of teachers are working to shift/transform their teaching practices (some taking big steps others going a little at a time) to make inquiry the driving force. In order to make this possible we have worked to bring in much professional development and allow for collaboration between teachers as we know this is of utmost importance when it comes to effective and meaningful inquiry.

I think it is important that we remember that any sort of change takes time and work, it will not happen overnight and, as such, it is important that as teacher-librarians we meet our staff where they are at in the inquiry journey and provide the support that is needed to help keep moving forward from that point. As emphasized in Fontichiaro’s article, “Nudging toward Inquiry: Re-envisioning Existing Research Projects” it is essential that we remain patient and accept that any authentic change will come with time, not from one day to the next. I think that with this comes the idea that Inquiry does not have to be a huge thing. I think that some people have developed the idea of Inquiry as something that always has to be a large scale project and this makes some teachers feel overwhelmed at the idea of diving into this new territory. As Fontichiaro (2009) states, however, the shift to inquiry could be as simple as making a few small changes to an existing unit, it is not always necessary to rework the wheel and we, as teacher-librarians, can be the support in helping teachers recognize this.

In terms of my experiences with Inquiry thus far there are two factors that stand out in terms of why I feel so sure in my support of this mindset as one that is here to stay, not just some passing phase in educational practices. These two factors were first brought to my attention during a Grade 4/5 inquiry project I participated in a couple of years ago at my school. This project involved 120 grade 4/5 students, 4 classroom teachers, myself as teacher-librarian (and grade 4/5 teacher), and our Indigenous Education teacher. While I knew Inquiry was important before this project it was through this undertaking that I truly became a ‘believer.’ As I mentioned, there are two factors that really stand out to me that arose from this project:

  1. Student engagement
  2. Power of collaboration 

When given a chance to focus in on something that they are curious about students will thrive. It was amazing for us to see, following some pre-teaching, how eager our students were to dive into their own inquiries. Almost all of our 120 students had a question or idea in mind of what sparked their interest and what they were feeling compelled to learn more about. As O’Keefe (2014) emphasizes in his article “Liking Work Really Matters,” liking our work really does make a difference. When students are given the freedom to launch into an area of interest to them, something that makes them curious, then they are more likely to become authentically engaged in their work. Through this authentic engagement will come feelings of enthusiasm for learning which is what is necessary if we hope to nurture the development of life long learners in our schools.

The other factor that, to me, is one of the key answers to the “why inquiry?” question is that of the potential for collaboration that comes through inquiry. My first experience with true, wide scale collaboration as a teacher came during this grade 4/5 inquiry project. We were six teachers, all at different points in our own inquiry journeys, but we were excited to take a leap and try something new. The process was challenging but ever so motivating. Not only was the work load divided amongst six people, but each of us brought our own strengths and backgrounds to the table which so enriched the experience. Collaboration amongst us teachers also modelled something very important for our students and that is the power in working together. As Hamilton (2011) reminds us in her article, “Creating Conversations for Learning: School Libraries as Sites of Participatory Culture,” inquiry is a messy process that requires a certain degree of risk taking. I believe that this risk taking and mess is so much more easily navigated when you are not going at it alone, this is true for both our students and ourselves as teachers.

For a more in-depth look at this project that really ‘sold’ me on inquiry here is a short film made about the experience by a local high school teacher and his media class.

 

Inquiry is an exciting process and I look forward to furthering my journey in this area throughout the duration of this course. I also know that it will not end there though because true inquiry, even an inquiry into inquiry itself, never ends, a fact which is quite motivating in itself.

 

References:

Fontichiaro, K. (2009). Nudging toward inquiry: Re-envisioning existing research projects. School Library Monthly, 26(1), 17-19.

Hamilton, B. J. (2011a). Creating conversations for learning: School libraries as sites of participatory culture. School Library Monthly 27(8): 41-43.

Manguel, A. (2015). Curiosity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

O’Keefe, P. A. (2014, Sept. 12). Liking work really matters. The New York Times, p. 12.

 

 

LLED 441 – Annotated Bibliography

A Look at Some of the New Additions to the Brentwood Library Shelves

I decided to use this annotated bibliography as a way to delve deeper into new books that I have purchased for our library in the last few months. I think it is important that as the Teacher-Librarian I have a good sense of our collection and while it can take time to get to know one’s whole collection in the first few years on the job it is possible to begin by ensuring that you have a comprehensive familiarity of new books that are purchased. In the reality of our jobs and busy lives it can be difficult to have the time to sit down and read every single book purchased, there is just not sufficient time in the day to make this possible, but it is important that we do what we can to ensure we are confident in our collection.

There are many aspects of the Teacher-Librarian role that I enjoy, one of which is, without a doubt, the purchasing of new books. I am constantly on the look out for the latest and the greatest, and also those little known treasures that may be flying under the radar. My Amazon wish list is always full of books that are not yet released just waiting for the day when I can transfer them into my cart to be purchased. Many of the books are also ones that students have told me about as I think it is so valuable to hear from the students in terms of what they would like to see on the shelves at their library.

Throughout the process of assembling this collection I was surprised by the number of books that were written by Canadian authors as this was not something I consciously was aware of until I had already picked out the books. I am very pleased with this realization as it goes to show that Canadian books and authors are being well represented in our library and also that Canadian authors are writing relevant and meaningful books for today’s children.

The following collection is a diverse mix of books/resources that represent a selection of the recent purchases I have made for the Brentwood Elementary library.

Picture Books

Chabbert, I., & Guridi, R. (Illustrator). (2016). The day I became a bird. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press.

French author, Ingrid Chabbert and Spanish illustrator, Guridi have teamed up to tell the story of a young boy in love. The boy falls in love, for the first time, on his first day of school with a classmate named Sylvia. Sylvia, however, seems to only care about birds, and the boy, much to his regret, is not a bird. The boy is creative and decides to solve the problem by dressing himself as a bird because that way he is convinced she will take notice of him. He soon finds that dressing as a bird is not very easy. All his favourite activities become more difficult when he tries to be something he is not. Sylvia does eventually take notice of the boy but much to his surprise, the first thing she does is remove his costume so she can see him for who he is. From there begins their friendship and the boy is happy. This sweet story is a beautiful reminder of the importance of being true to who you are and not trying to change for anyone else. The black and white sketches make for simple, yet effective illustrations in this story of young love.

Daniel, D. (2015). Sometimes I feel like a fox. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.  

This little gem of a book is indeed a worthy addition to any library collection. Canadian Métis author, Danielle Daniel, has taken inspiration from the Anishinaabe tradition that says everyone belongs to an animal clan and that each different animal represents different skills or virtues. This book explains some of these skills, virtues, and characteristics of twelve different animals in the words of children who, in the illustrations, appear to be disguised as the different animals. This book is a beautiful work representing an important part of the Anishinaabe culture that has much potential for use in the classroom.

Del Rizzo, S. (2017). My beautiful birds. Toronto, ON: Pajama Press.

Canadian author and artist Suzanne Del Rizzo was inspired to create My Beautiful Birds after reading about a young boy in a refugee camp who found comfort in the wild birds who frequented the camp. The book begins with a family fleeing from their home due to war in search of safety. After a long journey on foot they find refuge at a camp where they must adjust to a new way of life away from the comforts of home. The young boy feels lost without his friends the birds and reflects on the happiness and freedom he had once felt in his home before it was ravaged by war. As the story progresses the boy comes to realize that the sky at the camp is the same beautiful sky he remembers from his home and with this realization comes the return of birds; not the same as his birds from home, but new birds who bring with them the same sense of peace and joy to the boy. Del Rizzo’s book is unique in her use of mixed media, including clay and plasticine, to create the illustrations. This brings a depth to the illustrations, making them come alive for the reader. The colours and textures encourage close exploration of the illustrations and attention to detail.

Dupuis, J., Kacer, K., & Newland, G. (Illustrator). (2016). I am not a number. Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.

Jenny Kay Dupuis was inspired to write I Am Not A Number in honour of her grandmother, whose story this book is based on. As a young girl Dupuis’ grandmother, an Anishinaabe woman, was taken from her home, along with her brothers, to live at a Residential School in Northern Ontario. This story describes her grandmother’s experience at the school, not being allowed to speak her own language, given a number in exchange for her name, lack of food and proper nutrition, separation from her brothers, and abuse. When summer came she was allowed to return home and while there she told her family about the suffering she and her brothers had experienced at the school. Determined to not subject his children to another year of these atrocities her father hid them when the Indian Agent arrived to collect the children in order to keep them safe from having to return to the school. The illustrations in this book are realistic with much attention to detail. The feelings of the characters are portrayed on their faces through the skilful drawing of the illustrator allowing one to really see the Residential School experience reflected in the emotions made so clearly visible.

Eulate, A., & Wimmer, S. (Illustrator). (2012). The sky of Afghanistan. (J. Brokenbrow, Trans.). Madrid, Spain: Cuento de Luz.

 Author Ana Eulate has written a beautiful book of hope for a country and a people who have been so impacted by violence and the resulting despair. In the words of a young girl a picture of a brighter future for Afghanistan is painted, reminding the reader of the importance of hope and the value of seeing the world through the eyes of children for whom hope is still real. Illustrator, Sonja Wimmer, has made use of contrast to emphasize the present day state of the country and the brighter future that the girl dreams of for her country; the background in dull tones whereas the foreground brings in splashes of hope through the use of colour. One particularly powerful illustration features a tank painted in grey and from it blooms a flower in full colour, outshining the tank in size and beauty. In the background, when examined closely, you notice the map of Afghanistan, ripped but then taped back together again, representing hope that the pain experienced by this country can be healed and that the country and its people can be made whole once again. While this book is a song of hope for Afghanistan I think it is universal in nature and could also be seen as a song of hope for our world where there is so much pain and brokenness in need of healing.

Krouse Rosenthal, A., & Lichtenheld, T. (Illustrator). (2009). Duck rabbit. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Duck Rabbit was purchased to aid a discussion on differing perspectives. It encourages the reader to consider that one thing might mean something different, depending on who is looking at it. This is such an important concept to introduce to children, one that encourages the development of critical thinking and empathy. We each bring our own experiences, values, and ideas to a situation which can result in different perceptions and opinions and it is important that students understand that just because they see thing on way doesn’t mean it is the only way. While Krouse Rosenthal’s text is simple and Lichtenheld’s illustrations may seem juvenile, it is, in fact, a book that be of great value to students of all ages. 

O’Leary, S., & Leng, Q. (Illustrator). (2016). A family is a family is a family. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.

O’Leary and Leng have created a book for young children that captures the diverse nature of families in an inclusive and joyful manner. A Family is a Family is a Family does not make any type of family appear to be the ‘norm’ but instead presents each family as equal to the next. This bright, cheerful story allows all children to see themselves in the pages of a book, no matter what their family may look like. This book is ideal for young children, preschool to grade 2, and can be used as a springboard for discussion of one’s own unique family.

Rand, A., & Fiksdahl King, I. (Illustrator). (2016). What can I be? New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

While written over forty years ago, the manuscript for What Can I Be? was discovered just a few years ago following Rand’s death in 2012. The simple yet enticing text in this book encourages readers to use their imaginations to consider what different objects could be. For example, a blue square could be a windowpane, or perhaps the top of a box or any number of other things that the author urges one to think about. The illustrations are modern in style and combined with the text could be used to inspire an art project in the classroom. As we encourage our students to be critical and creative thinkers we must present them with books to stimulate this kind of thought and What Can I Be? is a book that does just that.

Raschka, C. (2010). Little black crow. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

I purchased Raschka’s Little Black Crow upon the request of a Kindergarten teacher after it being recommended at an inquiry workshop she attended. The book is, essentially, a book of questions asked by a young boy to a little black crow and encapsulates the innate curiousity of children about the world around them. This book, recommended by Adrienne Gear in her Reading Power resource, is a good addition to a lesson on questioning at the primary level. Learning to ask good questions is a big focus right now as we work on creating a culture of inquiry. The watercolour illustrations in this book create a whimsical feel and inspire one to want to pick up a paintbrush and follow Raschka’s example.

Sanna, F. (2016). The journey. London, UK: Flying Eye Books.

Francesca Sanna, author and illustrator of The Journey has fused a seemingly simple story with rich illustrations to create a powerful look at the plight of so many refugees forced to flee their homes due to war and conflict. In the Author’s Note Sanna speaks of her desire to write a story that was inspired by the meeting of two refugee girls she met in Italy. This story, however, is not solely theirs, but rather a mosaic of the journeys of so many refugees and a testament to “the incredible strength of the people within them.” The illustrations in this book are powerful in their use of colour. The blackness that fills the page describing the war that took the narrator’s father illustrates the bleakness and utter blindness of war. The Journey is a powerful addition to any discussion on refugees and the realities of war. During a time in which these topics are so often in the media it is essential that there are opportunities in the classroom for children to grapple with these issues and using books such as this one can be an effective starting point for these discussions.

Information Books

Amnesty International. (2008). We are all born free: The universal declaration of human rights in pictures. London, UK: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Amnesty International has teamed up with over twenty artists to create a powerful look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each of the Human Rights has been written in simplified language (intended to be easily understood by children) and is accompanied by an illustration depicting the Human Right in some way. The real value in this book is the diversity of the illustrations, each its own work of art. The diversity of the art represents the diversity in our world and that when brought together this diversity makes for a beautiful whole – each part of equal worth, each part necessary. When read with children this book sparks much discussion and debate. If in fact these are “universal” human rights then how come we can see that they are not in fact being universally granted to each human being in our world? Why is it ok that some people should have these rights and yet others do not? These are just some of the questions that may come from reading this book in the classroom and the discussions that follow encourage students to think critically and consider how the rights that we are so fortunate to experience here in Canada are not necessarily the reality for others in our world.

Hickman, P., & Fukawa, M. (2011). Righting Canada’s wrong: Japanese Canadian internment in the second world war. Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Company LTD.

 This book, and the whole Righting Canada’s Wrongs series, is a valuable resource to support the Grade Five Social Studies curriculum Big Ideas related to Immigration and Canada’s policies towards minority peoples throughout history. The great value of this book comes in its combination of text, photographs, newspaper clippings, and first hand accounts of personal experiences. While the reading level is more advanced then some Grade Fives may be able to handle it is, in general, at an appropriate level and each page is laid out well making it not appear overly text heavy and overwhelming for the reader. This book, along with the others in the series (Residential Schools, Italian Internment, Chinese Head Tax, and Komagata Maru) were purchased as resources to support a Grade Five inquiry project and provided students with valuable information to assist in the answering of their inquiry questions.

Lakin, P. (2017). Made by hand: Skateboards. New York, NY: Aladdin.  

The makerspace phenomenon has exploded as of late and we have begun exploring ways to bring ‘making’ into the classroom in new and authentiv ways. Encouraging children to see themselves as makers is important in terms of teaching them that they are capable and that their ideas are worth pursing. This book tells the story of Jake Eshelman who was, as a child, a snowboard and skateboard fanatic. He grew up, went to college, and planned to eventually go to law school. Along the way, however, Jake was inspired by an artist friend and realized that his passion was not in law but in making things. He decided to take this passion and turn it into a career. This led to Eshelman deciding to try his hand at building his very own skateboard. The book goes on to describe the steps he follows to build his skateboards by hand, each step accompanied by a photograph illustrating the process. The book finishes with a page entitled “Now it’s Your Turn” in which readers are encouraged to give making a try in whatever way they are inspired. Patricia Lakin has written another book in the Made By Hand series about bicycles and both books are valuable additions to any library or classroom.

McCarney, R. (2017). Where will I live? Toronto, ON: Second Story Press.

The current refugee crisis is one that has filled the news in recent months. While in some ways this crisis may seem far removed from Canada, it is not. The refugee crisis may be centred elsewhere but it is everyone’s responsibility to take a role in being informed and behaving as citizens of the world in terms of establishing a compassionate and supportive response to the situation in whatever way possible. Where Will I Live looks at the basic need of shelter and demonstrates how this basic need is not something that is assured to all refugees. When read with students it allows them to consider what it might feel like to be in that position and to discuss what their role may be to assist in this situation. As we are receiving refugee families in Victoria I think this book is especially important. It will help our students welcome new families from a place of empathy and compassion. This book is illustrated with photographs of refugees from around the world. Each photograph is labelled so that the reader knows where in the world it was taken. Reading this book while locating the different countries on a map would allow students to develop a visual of where in the world much of this conflict is taking place and would give them a better point of reference for when they may hear about these countries in the news or other media.

Tate, N., & Tate-Stratton, D. (2014). Take shelter: At home around the world. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers.  

This nonfiction resource provides a look at what a home is and how what may constitute a home often changes depending on where you are in the world. It is important that as teachers we help open our students’ eyes to the world beyond their own community or country and this book does an effective job in achieving this. The stunning photographs are an integral part to the book and make it accessible to readers and non-readers alike as there is so much that can be ‘read’ from the photos themselves. The layout of the book is very conducive to the elementary classroom in that it incorporates many nonfiction text features (table of contents, index, fact boxes, labels, captions, headings, etc.) that allow children to read nonfiction more efficiently.

Novels

Di Camillo, K. (2016). Raymie nightingale. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

Raymie Nightingale is a story of the power of friendship and its ability to build one up from despair to a renewed place of hope and strength. Raymie’s father ran away with the dental hygienist, and so begins the story. Raymie is determined to get her father’s attention so that he will return and she decides she will do this by participating in, and winning, the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. In order to do so she takes baton-twirling classes from the eccentric Ida Nee and it is during these lessons that she meets Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Louisiana and Beverly each come with their own stories, struggles, and reasons for wanting to win the Miss Central Florida Tire competition. As the story progresses the three girls experience many adventures together including an effort to perform good deeds at the nursing home, breaking into Ida Nee’s house, and attempting to rescue Archie the cat from The Very Friendly Animal Centre. Through these adventures the three girls build an unlikely friendship and become, as Louisiana dubs them, The Three Rancheros. Their friendship is authentic and demonstrates the value of sacrifice and the sense of strength and confidence that true friendship can bring. This book would be a valuable read aloud in Grades 4-6 as it lends itself to discussions about what it means to be a friend, a topic that often comes up during these middle years.

Donoghue, E. (2017). The lotterys plus one. Toronto, ON: Harper Collins.

 The Lotterys, a wonderfully diverse family made up of two dads, two mums, and seven children (each named after a kind of tree), live together in their home, Camelottery, in Toronto, Ontario. While eleven may seem like a full house already the story begins with the addition of number 12, a grandfather who does not necessarily approve of the Lotterys way of life. Nine year old Sumac has a difficult time adjusting to her Grandfather’s presence in her home, especially when she is made to give up her bedroom and she soon decides that he simply cannot stay. Donoghue’s first novel for children represents a beautiful look at what it truly means to be a family. While yes, the Lotterys may be considered ‘unconventional’ in many ways, they are built on a strong foundation of love, the key to any family no matter what it may look like. The Lotterys Plus One would make a wonderful read aloud and also be enjoyed by independent readers in grades 4-7. Readers who fall in love with the quirky Lotterys family will also be pleased to know that a sequel is already in the works.

Harrold, A.F., & Gravett, E. (Illustrator). (2015). The imaginary. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Harrold and Gravett have teamed up to create a spellbinding novel that is sure to capture its audience from the get go. Amanda Shuffleup is a girl with an imaginary friend named Rudger and it is on these two characters that the story is based. While everything starts out ok for Amanda and Rudger they are soon met by danger in the form of Mr. Bunting, a man who survives off of consuming ‘imaginaries’ such as Rudger. Soon the two friends are separated and Rudger is in danger not only of being eaten by Mr. Bunting but of being forgotten by Amanda, because once imaginaries are forgotten by their ‘real’ friends they disappear all together. The Imaginary is captivating with a touch of horror, just enough to enthral the reader or listener. Gravett’s illustrations help the story to come alive and her use of a combination of black and white and colour is effective and acts as a metaphor for the divide between the good and evil forces within the pages of the book.

Paris, H., & Calo, M. (Illustrator). (2014). Greetings from somewhere: The mystery of the gold coin. New York, NY: Little Simon.

The Mystery of the Gold Coin is the first book in the Greetings From Somewhere series by Harper Paris. These young reader chapter books are centred around twins Ella and Ethan Briar and their parents. In this first book in the series Mr. and Mrs. Briar inform their children that Mrs. Briar got a new job as a travel writer and they will soon be leaving their hometown of Brookeston to travel the world. Ella and Ethan are not very happy with the news and worry about leaving their school, home, friends, and grandfather. As the title suggests, the twins are soon faced with a mystery and they rush to solve it in time for their impending departure that same day. Reading book one leaves one eager to continue with the series to follow the Briar family’s adventures as they travel around the world. While in many ways reminiscent of the Magic Tree House books, this new series is slightly more modern in terms of the bright cartoon like cover illustrations proving it to be a popular choice among young readers.

Pennypacker, S., & Klassen, J. (Illustrator). (2016). Pax. New York, NY: Balzar and Bray.  

The relationship between children and their pets is strong and one of a kind, as is the relationship between Peter and his pet fox, Pax. While a somewhat unconventional pet, Pax is a true companion for Peter, and is, in many ways, his best friend. When Peter’s father goes off to fight in a war Peter must go and live with his grandfather. Pax, however, is not welcome and so the story begins with Peter and his father releasing Pax in the wild. Upon moving in with his grandfather Peter is riddled with worry for his fox’s wellbeing alone in the wild and so he decides to runaway in search of him. While Peter carefully plans his journey things go awry when he falls and injures his foot. He soon finds himself in the care of Vola, a woman with a peg leg living far removed from civilization in a house in the woods. The books alternates between Peter’s story and Pax’s experiences in the wild giving the reader an insight into both characters and their experiences while separated for the first time. Peter learns from the eccentric Vola, and struggles with some of the lessons she imparts on him while Pax is also learning, but his teaching comes from fellow foxes who help him discover what it means to survive in the wild. While boy and pet do reunite in the end of the story they do not return to their old ways. Pax, now at home in the wild, remains in his new home and Peter, knowing that Pax is ok, is able to accept that his best friend needs to be let free. There are many valuable lessons written into Pennypacker’s book, lessons of the destruction of war, the importance of relationships, and of finding your own unique path through life. A powerful book to be read aloud in the classroom and one that is sure not to be soon forgotten by students and teachers.

Media

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Plisson, P. (Director). (2013). On the way to school [Motion Picture]. France: DistriB Films.

On the Way to School follows the journey to school of children from four different countries around the world. The children from Kenya, India, Argentina, and Morocco must go to great lengths just to arrive at school and yet they persist due to their desire to receive an education. This movie is eye opening for most Canadian children who are used to a short bus ride, walk, or drive to school each morning. Getting to school and receiving an education is something that we can so easily take for granted in a country such as Canada and it is important that students understand that it is in fact a privilege that some children do not so easily experience. Another reason to bring this movie into the classroom is the cinematography that gives students a look at the geography and culture of four very distinct countries. On the Way to School could be used as a launch into an inquiry about school around the world or about life in a different country in general.

Tzue, A. (2017, March 24). Soar. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://vimeo.com/148198462 

Soar is a beautiful short that captures the essence of what it means to have a growth mindset and the power of working together. While the movie is only a mere six minutes long it proves the fact that length does not determine worth. Like a wordless picture book, Soar does not feature any dialogue and yet the story is still rich and vibrant as it is told through stunning animation, sound effects, and beautiful music. The story features a girl who is attempting to build an airplane model. She has her carefully drawn plans and yet cannot make her model fly. Before long something crashes onto the table on which she is working: a little miniature boy, only a few inches tall, and his flying machine. Upon landing however, his flying machine breaks and the tiny boy is frightened by the girl. She demonstrates that she means no harm and soon the two begin to work together to try and repair the flying machine. Their first attempts do not work and they begin to lose hope, but do not give up. Eventually, through teamwork and perseverance, they repair the flying apparatus and the miniature little boy is able to fly off to complete his job of placing a star in the night sky. This short is a worthy complement to any discussion on Growth Mindsets and working together and can be especially valuable when used at the beginning of a new school year.

Websites/Blogs

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Epic books. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from https://www.getepic.com.

Epic Books is a web-based children’s library that can be accessed on a computer desktop or as an iPad application. Free for educators, this library is extensive and provides a combination of both read aloud, read alone, and audio books making it accessible to all learners. Epic’s database includes new books, both fiction and nonfiction and allows readers to experience literature in another form. Children today are very intuitive when it comes to using technology and, as such, students can very easily navigate this resource. While it is not something that can or should completely replace books in a physical form it is a worthy complement to our physical libraries and another way to engage students in reading.

Yewman, S. Picture books blogger. Retrieved March 16, 2017 from https://picturebooksblogger.wordpress.com

As a teacher librarian I am always on the look out for new books to be brought into the library and shared with staff and students. I find that one way to do this is through the reading of blogs. One such blog that I have taken a liking to as of late is Picture Books Blogger written and compiled by Sarah Yewman. There are several factors about this blog that make it both appealing and useful. Firstly it is well laid out and visual. While it may seem trivial that the blog looks nice it is, in fact, important when it comes to ease of reading and usability. If a blog is too busy in appearance or too difficult to navigate it can become frustrating and is less likely to be a useful resource. Additionally, Picture Books Blogger features a good variety of books including nonfiction, graphic novels, wordless books, and, of course, picture books. Yewman provides a good summary of the books that she reviews and allows the blog visitor to get a good impression of the book before deciding whether or not to purchase it. Furthermore, I appreciate the fact that Picture Books Blogger does not have any advertisements or retail affiliations making it strictly for the purpose of sharing books with fellow book lovers.

Professional Books/Articles

MacKenzie, T. (2016). Dive into inquiry. Irvine, CA: Ed Tech Team Press.

Trevor MacKenzie’s book, Dive Into Inquiry is a practical resource that can assist teachers to bring Inquiry practices into the classroom. MacKenzie begins by sharing his personal teaching philosophy that all effective teaching and learning stems from a place where trusting and authentic relationships have been developed. He argues that without this foundation there is no possibility that any meaningful learning can take place. This is especially true for inquiry based learning in which students must feel comfortable to take risks in their learning in order to truly engage in the messiness of inquiry. MacKenzie goes on to lay out both theory and practices of inquiry in the classroom. While this book definitely has a high school focus there are many ideas and concepts that can easily be modified to fit an elementary or middle school framework. This book lends well to staff professional book clubs as it opens up the possibility for much productive discussions in terms of what inquiry might look like at one’s own school.

Said, S. (2015, September 29). Can children’s books help build a better world? Retrieved March 20, 2017, from: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/sep/29/childrens-books-build-a-better-world-sf-said

Children’s books are extremely powerful vessels through which all people can learn. While a children’s book may seem insignificant in that they are often short, may not have too many words, or may even have none at all, there are so many truths, values, and lessons that can be learned from these volumes leading me to agree with Said in that yes, they can indeed help to build a better world. I am aware that a number of the books I have included in this annotated bibliography are related to global issues, most specifically the current refugee crisis. I suppose this is due to the fact that this is something that I have been so troubled by. Witnessing some of the responses to such a crisis has left me questioning the goodness of human nature. How can we, as a human race, not be supportive to others in the face of danger, violence, and loss? These books have helped me come to terms with the fact that while yes, there are some individuals out there who are very outspoken in their discriminatory views there are also many others who are speaking out from a place of compassion and empathy such as the authors who have written many of the books included in this collection. In his article, Said (2015) describes the value of picture books in transcending the “us and them” (para. 8) mentality by allowing one the opportunity to feel what it would be like to be in someone else’s shoes and to develop that empathy that is necessary if we want to be able to live in a world in which all are not only respected but truly valued for who they are.