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Librarians Share Best Practices for Teaching Inquiry-Based Learning

Librarians Share Best Practices for Teaching Inquiry-Based Learning

When it comes to effectively teaching inquiry-based learning, an educator's best bet is to pair up with their school librarians. 

So says Paige Jaeger, a former school librarian and current administrator and co-author of "Think Tank Library: Brain-Based Learning Plans for New Standards", in an article on

The article said that at first many teachers "gradually moved away" from inquiry-based learning "during the heyday of No Child Left Behind."

"The pendulum is beginning to swing back towards an inquiry-based approach to instruction thanks to standards such as Common Core State Standards for math and English Language Arts, the Next Generation Science Standards and the College, Career and Civic Life [C3] Framework for Social Studies State Standards," the article said. "Transitioning to this style of teaching requires students to take a more active role and asks teachers to step back into a supportive position. It can be a tough transition for many students and their teachers, but turning to the school librarian for support could make the transition a little easier."

According to the article, Jaeger said that librarians "were some of the first educators to realize that the Internet made finding information [their bread and butter] much easier. But they also recognized that kids would need help synthesizing and analyzing the vast amounts of information at their fingertips. This realization naturally led them to inquiry-based approaches."

“As grade level and content-specific teachers begin to incorporate inquiry-based approaches into their classrooms, they should look to collaborate on lesson planning with their librarian, Jaeger said," according to the article. "Jaeger and her co-author Mary Ratzer want to align teaching strategies to the research on how the brain learns best, which they believe fits perfectly with inquiry learning."

Ratzer said that if one's brain could talk it would say "'I'm lazy and I delete what's not important.'"

“If the kid doesn’t have rigor and the ability to consolidate and hard wire ideas, he’ll revert to the lazy behavior," she said. "You want an essential question that immediately says: this is important.”

According to the article, "to snag students’ attention early, Jaeger and Ratzer suggest developing essential questions that connect the standards to the real world. Connecting learning to the experience of the learner makes it more relevant and allows students to manipulate and apply their learning in ways that they can see. This approach focuses students’ attention and immediately distinguishes the learning from a simple bureaucratic task that they just have to get through."

Jaeger said that "in this process, you have an active learner with an engaged brain."

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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