Reflection on #AASL13: Importance of Student Voice

18 Nov

On Friday, November 15th, we presented the ILP to a group of educators at the AASL 16th National Conference & Exhibition in Hartford, CT.  As part of our presentation, we shared video reflections from students who have experienced the Inquiry Learning Plan, which is one of our favorite parts of the presentation to share with others.

It always brings us joy to watch our students reflect on their learning through the ILP.  The video we shared of students communicating their experiences in developing questions, confronting new information, and making decisions about what to study demonstrates just how mature they are in their thinking.  On Thursday evening, we listened to Tony Wagner speak about the importance of critical thinking and adaptability, two of seven essential survival skills for today’s learners and workers.  When re-watching this video of our students, we can’t help but see the connections between our students’ learning and the message Wagner so passionately articulates.  Our students are unpacking language in standards to identify skills they need to address.  They are choosing information sources responsibly and synthesizing these sources to address the divergent and convergent questions they are crafting.  They are deciding which activities best allow them to practice and master the standards, and they are reflecting upon these activities, which ultimately leads to a final summative representation of their learning.  Our students are charged with the responsibility, the curiosity, and the perseverance to undertake this learning process. This is the core of critical thinking.  This is the core of rigor.  And we—the teachers and librarians—provide feedback, ask them questions, connect them with texts and information, and suggest methods for piloting each stage of the ILP.  We help them learn not just the content of the curriculum, but how to navigate the landscape of learning and research, with all of its twists, turns, and bumps in the road.  This is the spirit of adaptability, and such experiences help students build confidence and skill as researchers.

As a librarian, I take great pleasure in hearing students articulate their learning. In collaboration with classroom teachers, librarians can help students realize that they aren’t alone in the learning process.  A librarian’s role is to guide students through these type of learning processes so that students can become self-sufficient and responsible information consumers. As a result, students are better prepared and more inclined to seek guidance or ask questions in the future.  For librarians, it is crucial to be able to capture our students’ reflections, as these are opportunities for students to express the emotional and cognitive aspects of their work.  In turn, librarians become learners as well.  We begin to understand just how to scaffold lessons and embed skills to maximize students’ learning.  Learning from students’ feedback, we can anticipate when students will become overwhelmed in future situations or when in the research process they may move from a period of uncertainty, as Dr. Carol Kuhlthau suggests, to a period of clarity. Learning about our students thinking helps us become better teachers and librarians, which is why we will continue to capture these voices and reflections.

What student reflections have been most powerful in your learning as an educator?

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