Assessment Toolbox


What’s in your assessment toolbox?  As a collaborating co-teacher, or instructor in your own library classroom, you need a variety of assessment tools that measure critical thinking and comprehension, as well as knowledge and performance.  So many assessments, so many choices-how do you pick the right one? Formative and summative assessments range from simple to complex, and depend on the goals for the activity or unit and the age/level of the student.  Good assessment tools inform the teacher and the student about progress.  Teaching and learning can be adjusted according to results of assessments. They are  essential elements for effective instruction.  So with that said, do you have some favorite ways to evaluate learning?  Would you like to find new ideas that are quick and easy?  What are some technology apps that bring a creative twist to the tried and true?

Here are a few links to explore that might give you some new tools for your toolbox:

Jennifer LaGarde’s  “Adventures of Library Girl” blog (Dec. 3, 2012) has a compendium of digital tools for using for assessment:

Kathy Schrock’s website-not to be missed-many examples of rubric and assessments:

West Virginia Department of Education website, page on formative assessment:

Do you have other suggestions to add to the list?  Share them here!











Collaborating for Technology Integration

Recently I was reading one of the many blogs I read on a weekly basis and I saw this post on Edudemic (which is btw one of my favorites) reporting results from a study on how teachers love educational technology, but they still aren’t using it. This is one of the premises of my own research – that the school librarian is just the person to help out with this problem, so I was immediately interested. You can see the entire post here.

This quote from an elementary school teacher really resonated with me: “Teachers have so much stuff to do in a limited amount of time. If there was a resource available that would do some of the research leg-work that would be wonderful.” There is also additional data how teachers just do not have the time to look for and evaluate resources.

Well you do have a resource available to you (unless they have been eliminated, which is a whole other issue) to do the research leg-work – it is your school librarian!

I again see this as a great opportunity for school librarians to step up as technology leaders in their schools to address the needs of teachers. It is part of the job of the school librarian to stay current on new technologies and how to use them effectively in teaching and learning.

As I listened to presentations at the AASL Conference I heard many ways that some school librarians are working with teachers to integrate technology, yet it seems that many are not. So here are a couple of quick links from the conference to get you on your way to being this resource in your school:

 AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013

 AASL Best Apps for Teaching and Learning 2013

STEM + Inquiry=Collaboration

00439573Sue Kimmel posted recently about finding ways to connect and collaborate with teachers using the Common Core Math Standards and literacy. This week I want to encourage reaching out to make connections around science initiatives, too, by looking at citizen science.

Citizen scientists ignite a passion for science and inquiry through participation in authentic projects that actively make a difference in scientific knowledge on large and small scales.  With the current emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in many school districts across the nation, the citizen scientist collaborative model for collective inquiry, gathering and analyzing data, and problem solving can be used to generate enthusiasm and curiosity in science classrooms.

Here is an opportunity for teacher librarians to become acquainted with the Common Core ELA Science Standards 6-12, and the Next Generation Science Standards, and to bring some fresh ideas and resources for developing curriculum units with other classroom teachers.

As an instructional partner, and co-teacher, we have to continue to build our teaching toolkit with pedagogy and content knowledge.  For students to become citizen scientists in their schools and communities, teacher librarians and teachers collaborate to design meaningful learning opportunities that engage curious minds, require action and reflection, and help solve real world problems.     Or, you could also get your students interested in a citizen science club that could have a physical and virtual presence in your library media center!

What is “citizen science?” you might ask.  How does technology play role in the collective capacity of amateur scientists all over the world, or in your own community? How can you develop a unit of study that replicates or enjoins some of the authentic work that is done by citizen scientists?

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling with both teachers and students:

Recommended reading:

  • Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns presents an approachable overview about the impact of citizen science for young people.  It’s a great introduction to some of the current projects around the world and shows how global citizenship is enhanced by making connections and contributions by individuals.  As an example of narrative non-fiction, is can also serve as a model for Common Core Reading and Writing Standards.

Edutopia website has a couple of related blog posts:

Youtube videos that present examples of authentic science inquiry:

  • “Digital Fishing on Citizen Science Cruise,” shares the educational program of the Crystal Cove Alliance in Newport Beach (CA) that immerses Students in the science of marine protected area management. /watch?v=u6m2tqZMD3s
  • “Technology creates Citizen Scientists” relates the critical role that technology plays in allowing citizen scientists to help solve real world problems at local and global levels.


  • “Scistarter: Science We Can Do Together” offers many projects and ideas for scientific inquiry and citizen scientists.

Calling All Citizen Scientists!

I’m sure there are many opportunities in your local school and community for getting your student citizen scientists involved in helping to solve problems.  Catch the STEM wave that is a natural fit for your library program!



Burns, Loree Griffin (2012). Citizen scientists. NY: Square Fish.

Brunsell, Eric. (2010). A primer on citizen science.  Edutopia (2010, Oct.13). Weblog.  Retrieved from:  .

Common core Initiative: English Language Arts:  Science and Technical Standards (2011). Website.  Retrieved from: .

Digital fishing on citizen science cruise. (2012, Sep. 25)  Newport Beach, CA: Crystal Cove Alliance. Video.  Retrieved from:

Next Generation Science Standards. (2013). Website.  Retrieved from:

Phillips, Mark. (2013, April 17). Teaching and the environmental crisis: resources and models. Edutopia . Weblog.  Retrieved from:

Scientific American: Citizen Science. Website.  Retrieved from:

Scistarter. Website.  Retrieved from:

Technology creates Citizen Scientists. (2012, Aug. 16) California Academy of Science.  Video.  Retrieved from:

This thing called science part 6: Citizen science.  (2013, May 23). TechNyouvids. Video.  Retrieved from:

Microsift clipart.








Building a Culture of “All In!!!”

Yesterday at the AASL President’s Program speaker 2013 AASA National Superintendent of the Year Mark A. Edwards from Mooresville (NC) Graded School District spoke eloquently on the role that school culture and vision play in his district’s successful technology “conversion.”  While he described the investment Mooresville is making by leasing computers for every student, faculty, and staff member in the district, he focused on the idea of “all in!!!” as much or more than the tools themselves.

Although I have not yet read his book, Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement, Dr. Edwards clearly outlined a school culture context in which everyone is invested in and committed to providing students with the most engaging, collaborative, real-world learning experiences that lead to student (and educator) success.

Dr. Edwards talked about six ingredients in the Mooresville initiative. It was compelling to note that only two of them were directly related to technology: 21st-century tools and rich and intensive data used by students, teachers, and parents to guide and monitor learning.

The other four ingredients were: building the culture, building capacity through ongoing professional development, “all in!!!,” and ubiquitous leadership. (It is no surprise that Dr. Edwards is now writing a book about distributive leadership.) What should strike all educators, and maybe school librarians in particular, is that everyone has a leadership role in this model, which supports the culture of collaboration in the school.

Said Dr. Edwards: “Every school librarian in Mooresville represents leadership that is central to successful student learning.”

Thank you for an excellent talk, Dr. Edwards, and for spreading your vision far and wide across the country. You have the eyes and ears of other educational leaders. We look forward to hearing more about the success in Mooresville.


Teaching Teachers Technology

To further this concept of leadership in technology integration, I hope that Building a Culture of Collaboration Blog school librarian readers will consider the importance of their approaches to teaching teachers technology. While our ultimate goal is to get digital tools in the hands of students so they can use them for accessing information and planning presentations, and producing knowledge, working with classroom teachers and specialists is the way to ensure school-wide technology integration.

On Thursday, February 6th, I will deliver the Library/Media Specialist Academy Keynote at the Texas Computer Education Association Conference in Austin. You can access the online support for my presentation “Teaching Teachers Technology: The School Librarian’s Starring Role.”

When we consider that every time a school librarian or technology integrator facilitates a classroom teacher’s integration of technology tools, we are impacting the learning of every student in that educator’s classroom this year and most likely for years to come. It is important then that we learn effective strategies for teaching teachers. Theories related to andragogy, the science of teaching adult learners, were brought to the U.S. by Malcolm Knowles. This is my summary of his ideas about adult learners.

Adult learners:
1.    are self-directed and take responsibility for their own learning.
2.    have prior experience that can be a positive or negative influence on learning.
3.    are motivated by an internal need to know.
4.    have a problem-solving orientation to learning.

What instructional problems can we help classroom teachers solve in order to effectively integrate technology tools into learning and teaching in our schools?


Knowles, M. The adult  learner: A neglected species. (2nd ed.). Boston: Gulf.

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Leadership in Technology Integration

As many know, Wednesday, February 6, 2013 is the second annual Digital Learning Day. Educators from around the country will be sharing and celebrating effective strategies for integrating technology tools into 21st-century learning and teaching.

In light of this national conversation, I would like to recommend a research article by our co-blogger Melissa P. Johnston: “School Librarians as Technology Integration Leaders: Enablers and Barriers to Leadership Enactment.”

In the conclusion of her study report, Dr. Johnston summarizes the enablers and the barriers to technology integration identified by the participants in her study who were teacher leaders and school librarians:

Enablers for all participants:

  • supportive principal,
  • opportunities for a leadership role and responsibilities,
  • the desire to make a difference for students and teachers,
  • professional development opportunities,
  • and a sense of obligation to get involved.


  • time,
  • exclusion from a leadership role and responsibilities,
  • lack of funding,
  • and inadequate staffing.

Enablers unique to school librarians included:

  • support from professional organizations,
  • support from district library administrators,
  • serving in a dual role as school librarian and technology specialist,
  • and technology expertise.

Barriers identified by school librarians included:

  • competitive relationships with instructional technologists,
  • lack of support at the district level from a library administrator,
  • and lack of technology expertise (Johnston, 2012, p. 27).

In light of this research, educators can use Digital Learning Day to rededicate ourselves to working collaboratively with each other and with professional organizations to create dynamic learning opportunities for students that effectively integrate 21st-century tools. Let’s break down the barriers and shore up the enablers for the benefit of learners!


Johnston, M. P. (2012). School librarians as technology integration leaders: Enablers and barriers to leadership enactment. School Library Research, 15(1). Retrieved from

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