Teaching in Libraries: A Recommended Reading List

Last week, a colleague asked me for a few reading recommendations about library instruction. It was so fun putting together this list of things that I’ve enjoyed and that have influenced me, and a couple other folks have asked to see it, so I thought I’d share it here, lightly edited. Hope you might find it useful, and I’d love to hear about your favorite reads as well!

Library Instruction Literature

I recently read Not Just Where to Click: Teaching Students How to Think about Information, edited by Troy A Swanson and Heather Jagman, and found it really useful for contextualizing the bigger picture of library instruction. I especially liked every single essay in the first part, so think it’s worth your time to read through them all!

Char Booth’s Reflective Teaching, Effective Learning blew my mind in library school as the first evidence-based library instruction book I encountered, and it’s an A+ introduction to instructional design for librarians.

I was really inspired by Anne-Marie Deitering and Hannah Gascho Rempel’s “Sparking Curiosity: Librarians’ Role in Encouraging Exploration” piece in In the Library with the Lead Pipe recently. Their coordinated approach to thinking about research as an exploration made me excited about instruction all over again.

I love everything Veronica Arellano Douglas writes about instruction, and if you aren’t already reading her blog, please do: https://veronicaarellanodouglas.com/

Pretty sure that we’ve recommended Sara Fine’s “Librarians and the Art of Helping” here before, but I’m going to recommend it again. It’s about the reference desk, but reference and instruction are really on a continuum, and there’s lots of important ideas here about question-asking and how we talk to our learners.

Barbara Fister on everything is so great: https://barbarafister.net/

I’m not the hugest fan of tooting my own horn (though I’m trying to be better about it, thanks to the encouragement of some fabulous colleagues), but I actually think you could do worse than this article that Kevin and I wrote about some concrete strategies from the cognitive science literature for library instruction.

General Teaching Literature

While this book by educational psychologist Daniel T. Willingham is meant for K-12 teachers, it’s a great and accessible intro to the science of how people learn. I own two copies, and they are both loaned out at the moment to librarian colleagues: Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for Your Classroom.

bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress is a classic for a reason. I’m the director of a “new” Teaching & Learning Department, and I’ve come back to this several times recently in thinking about what our community of teaching practice can and should look like (see Chapter 3: Embracing Change and Chapter 10: Building a Teaching Community).

Do Learners Really Know Best? Urban Legends in Education” is a fun and eye-opening read. We read it as a department this quarter and it led to some really fruitful and interesting discussions about challenging our assumptions about learners.

I really enjoy and value books aimed at K-12, because there’s a lot to draw on for our work with older learners too, and I recently found The Gift of Failure to be really helpful for thinking through a process-orientation to research, and how we might model that in the classroom and reference desk.

Kevin (of course) pointed me to “Engaging students in learning activities: It is not autonomy support or structure but autonomy support and structure” and I think about this literally every single time I plan a class now.

A few blogs that I follow pretty closely: Benjamin Doxtdator (http://www.longviewoneducation.org/), Hybrid Pedagogy (http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/hybridped/), and Hack Education (http://hackeducation.com/).

…anyway, that’s my little idiosyncratic list. Let me know what you would add!

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Filed under Bibliographic Instruction is Dead, Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher, The Library Game

Please Consider Donating to Support a “Culturally Reflective” Elementary School Classroom Library

Hello Readers,

I’m writing with a very special request for you to support a campaign that is both personally meaningful to me and I think also reflective of the moral and pedagogical values of many of the folks who read this blog.

My wife Lyndsay is a fifth grade teacher at Citizens of the World Elementary School in East Hollywood, CA.  This year she has been working to create a “culture of reading” in her classroom (based on principles from educational psychologist Daniel Willingham’s excellent book on the subject) and is now reaching out to ask for support to fund a small classroom library reflective of the diverse community of learners in her classroom. Lyndsay has selected several books (her school does not have a school media specialist) that would be amazing additions to her permanent classroom library, and will make a huge impact on the lives of children who love to read. As such, she’s asking for financial support to build this library. Here’s more info in her own words:

Hello everyone!

I teach in a busy 5th grade classroom at a diverse by design public charter school in Los Angeles. The mission of my school, and my classroom, is to provide curiosity-driven learning while also teaching Social Emotional Learning, Social Justice, and bridging differences. A typical day will involve students bouncing on their yoga balls as they work in groups on a problem-based inquiry lesson sequence. When there’s conflict, students can be overheard using I-statements and taking the time and space they need for themselves in the peace corner until they’re able to come back focused to their work. Restorative Justice Circles and Morning Meeting facilitate a deep sense of community and understanding that no one individual is without the influence of the rest of the community. Together, we strive everyday to show up as our best selves and support each other along the way.

I’m trying to build my library to be more reflective of the diverse community that I serve. If you’re able, please donate to these really amazing kids.

For the next seven days, if you use the code LIFTOFF, your donation will be doubled (about to $50).

You all rock!

And here’s her description of the project in full:

“Culturally Reflective Library
My students need books that celebrate the diversity in our classroom!

My Students

Our classroom is built of diverse students that are capable of perspective-taking, listening to other people’s stories, and exploring the ways that we as citizens of the world have an obligation to reach out and help others.

My students don’t want to wait until they’re older to bridge differences, they do it now.

They are able to perspective-take and discuss the ways our culture shapes our perspective, including naming the varied aspects that go into constructing an Identity. My kids are invested in learning to work together by respecting what makes us each unique individuals and committed to making the world a new and more understanding world.

My Project

My classroom is comprised of a diverse group of kiddos and I want to make sure that all the books that are offered in the library are reflective of this diversity and are inclusive of all the type of people represented in my classroom community.

Literature is a wonderful way for these culturally aware kids to hear other’s stories as well as having their own stories affirmed.

Having a diverse offering of authors, characters, and situations better reflects the world we live in. Especially in these times where certain populations are being marginalized, I want to ensure that all of my students feel reflected by our classroom library and feel empowered to share their stories.”

If you click on the donation link, you can see the specific books your donation will fund, and where your money will go directly.  It would be amazing to me and to so many students if this project is able to receive full funding, so please, dear readers, consider reaching out to support this awesome cause. As Lyndsay mentions – or the next seven days, if you use the code LIFTOFF, your donation will be doubled – so even “small” donations can help put a book in a really deserving child’s hands.

Thank you so much for considering!

-Kevin

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Filed under Education, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Uncategorized

ALA Course Update

In two weeks, we’ll begin teaching an ALA online course based on Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Principles and Practice. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been putting together the course materials, including making some videos that we hope will add a fun and personal element to the course.

As we’ve been putting this together, we’ve been thinking about everything that’s going on in the world, and how lucky we are to have salaried jobs with healthcare and stability, and we made a decision: We’re going to donate all our proceeds from the course (development and registration fees) to nonprofits that we feel are doing important and life-changing work. We’ll post our receipts here after the end of the class as a demonstration that we’ve made the donations.

We’ll be donating to:

  1. Planned Parenthood (https://www.plannedparenthood.org/)

“Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.”

  1. United We Dream (unitedwedream.org)

“United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth led organization in the nation … We seek to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and believe that by empowering immigrant youth, we can advance the cause of the entire community – justice for all immigrants … United We Dream runs programs to advocate for the access to higher education: stop the deportations of undocumented youth and their parents; and strengthen alliances and support for DREAMers at the intersection of queer and immigrant rights.”

We know the course is *not* cheap, so it feels right to give back with our share of the proceeds, especially since the basic premise of our book is that people, including all their difference, matter and deserve equal rights and respect. We’re grateful to ALA for giving us the opportunity to share our work in a new format, and grateful to those who’ve signed up for the course already. We look forward to working with you in a few weeks!

-Kevin and Dani

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Filed under ...Etc., Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher

Congrats, Dani!

Really nice article by UCR featuring Dani and Learner-Centered Pedagogy!

An excerpt:

“Most librarians who come out as credentialed MLSs don’t have a background in teaching, but when they come onto their job, a huge amount of their work is in teaching,” Cook explained. “We hope this book will help librarians who don’t necessarily have a background in education to put their students at the center of their work.”

Full article here.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Uncategorized

Learner-Centered Pedagogy E-Course

Dani and I are excited to announce that we’ll be partnering with ALA for a six week E-Course based on our Learner-Centered Pedagogy book, taught by … us!

The course, which is asynchronous, begins on Nov. 13, 2017. Students who register for the course will receive an electronic copy of Learner-Centered Pedagogy, and upon completion of the course will get a certificate of completion for professional development/continuing education purposes through ALA.

Here is a basic course outline:

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this course, you will be able to

  • Articulate an individually developed learner-centered teaching philosophy
  • Plan and deliver a learner-centered activity for an information literacy-related outcome
  • Incorporate evidence-based practices related to autonomy, empathy, relationship rapport, and learners’ intrinsic motivation into your own reference and instructional contexts

eCourse Outline

Week 1Introduction to Learner-Centered Pedagogy

  • How is learner-centered pedagogy defined and what are its theoretical and empirical bases?
  • How do we know when learning has occurred?
  • How can teacher-librarians (re)define information literacy in a learner-centered environment?

Week 2:  Facilitating Curiosity

  • How can library instructors tap into learners’ intrinsic motivation and desire for authentic self-expression to make information literacy really matter to learners?
  • Why do autonomy-supportive rather than controlling learning environments so successfully motivate learning?
  • What are some evidence-based practices librarians can employ to support learners’ sense of autonomy and authenticity in the information literacy context?

Week 3: The Cognitive Science of Learning

  • What are some of the cognitive challenges that students face when learning information literacy skills?
  • How can an understanding of the cognitive science of learning improve librarians instructional design practices in and out of the classroom?
  • What are some evidence-based practical strategies librarians can take from the cognitive science of learning to better organize their instruction to help make information literacy learning stick?

Week 4: Relationships: The Heart of Learner-Centered Pedagogy

  • Why do students seem to learn best with instructors that they feel connected to?
  • How have librarians historically approached the importance of the librarian-student relationship for facilitating information literacy learning?
  • What are some evidence-based practices librarians can use to establish genuine connections and relationship rapport with learners in the information literacy context?

Week 5: Mindsets toward Learning

  • How does students’ attitudes toward the role intelligence plays in learning impact their motivation to learn?
  • How can we facilitate a process-oriented approach to research?
  • What best practices can librarians adopt from the mindset literature to help students who are experiencing roadblocks in their research?

Week 6: The Learner-Centered Technologist

  • What is technology and what role does it play in learner-centered information literacy instruction?
  • What practical test can librarians use to assess whether the use of a particular technology is learner-centered?
  • What evidence based strategies for using technology are recommended by the learner-centered pedagogy literature?

There’s a good bit more info available at the ALA site about registration, etc., but please feel free to get in touch personally with either Dani or myself if you have any questions about the content, etc.

We look forward to the possibility of working with you!

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“Creative Types”

There’s no such thing as a creative type. As if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb. A very time consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work

-Milton Glaser (via NITCH)

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Filed under Education, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes

“Learner-Centered Pedagogy” Recommended in American Libraries Magazine

We wanted to share something we’re quite excited by, that our book Learner-Centered Pedagogy was reviewed and recommended by Karen Muller in her “Librarian’s Library” column for American Libraries Magazine.

We’re particularly pleased that the review considers the book useful for school librarians in a K-12 educational setting: though we wrote it, in some sense, with academic librarians in mind (since we’re academic librarians), we do think that the book is applicable for all kinds of libraries, and transfers to any context where librarians are connecting with learners or other educators in some way.

Happily, the review agrees:

Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Principles and Practice, by Kevin Michael Klipfel and Dani Brecher Cook, is intended for academic librarians, but the concept of having empathy for the learner and what that person needs or wants to learn has broad applicability.

We promise we won’t share every review of the book, but we may share some so it’s not just us saying that we think the book is good!

Also exciting, I might add, is the column’s general focus on the importance of librarians as educational leaders.

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Uncategorized