The flexible "curriculum" of the library learning commons

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Date: Feb. 2016
From: Teacher Librarian(Vol. 43, Issue 3)
Publisher: E L Kurdyla Publishing LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,004 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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From time to time, we have noticed teacher librarians making requests across social media for sample curriculum documents that can be used as lessons throughout the year with both children and teens coming to the library learning commons for instruction.

Like other parts of the school curriculum, we are often encouraged to have our own curriculum that begins in September and ends in May. We want all children to be taught what we deem important for them to prepare for college or a career.

Instead of a set curriculum based on coverage at each grade level, I would like to propose an alternative flexible curriculum based on a newly developed model by Fran Kompar (Greenwich Connecticut Schools), Carol Koechlin (Toronto, Canada), and myself. Our model is an acronym known as the LIIITE Model that demonstrates how a teacher librarian can add "light" to any learning experience during a cotaught learning experience. Before discussing the model, let us look at a larger view of what actually is happening in a typical library learning commons.

From a child or teen perspective, there should be two major things I can do when I come to the LLC: informal learning and formal learning as illustrated in the accompanying visual. Here we visualize that a student can expect to have a place in the school where self-directed learning, making, creativity, and experimentation can take place both in a physical space and in a virtual space.

Secondly, I will come to the LLC with my teacher for formal learning experiences where we will use information and technology resources to do projects assigned in the classroom and carried out both in the classroom and in the LLC as teachers coteach alongside teacher librarians. From the student perspective, the LLC is not just a warehouse where they come to check out a book or use a database. It is a vibrant and active learning space where the coolest things are happening!

The LIIITE Model concentrates on the value added piece of formal learning in the LLC. The title at the top of the model explains its purpose: "The LIIITE Model of Teacher Librarians: What Today's Teacher Librarians Add to Cotaught Learning Experiences. " The caption at the bottom of the model hints at its use: "Six Reasons a Classroom Teacher Would 'Hire' a Teacher Librarian to Partner With as the Library Learning Commons Program Pushes Toward Cutting Edge Practices." In the center of the model, we see six major strategies the teacher librarian might embed in a learning experience in order to enhance the objectives of the learning experience as designed by the classroom teacher. In other words, our curriculum has six main areas of focus, but they are inserted into a classroom teacher's objectives at the point of need rather than in a prescribed systematic way so common in math or science or social studies. In talking and planning with the teacher for an LLC-centered learning experience we might say: "I'd love to add LIIITE ("light") to your learning objectives to see if we can push deeper and engaged learning into every student in this project or assignment. We can select from literacies, information, inquiry and discovery, instructional designs, technology boosts, and I will add my expertise to yours to spark up the unit/ lesson. " By showing the model of the six major add-ons that could be used in a learning experience, we are trying to convey the idea to the teacher that, "If I work to teach this unit alone in the classroom, I will achieve a certain level of success. If I push this experience into the LLC and coteach alongside the teacher librarian, the outcome will be much better for both of us and certainly for the learners!"

Another major use of the LIIITE Model is to help administrators, school boards, and parents understand what the difference is between a traditional library and a Library Learning Commons. They need to know why we think we have a value added component worth funding in the day of the Internet and Google. We need not only a model to show them, but also an elevator speech beyond something like: "We teach kids and teens to love reading and teach them information literacy." Notice that in the LIIITE Model, we show traditional practices of the library and then add on top of those cutting edge practices that push us into the center of teaching and learning in the school.

As we present the LIIITE Model for you to consider and use, we ask you to construct your own model that fits the value added aspects of your own program!

Here's how: Analyze, scrutinize, think, and assemble a group to look at the LIIITE Model together. Do you like our six practices? Do you like our traditional and cutting edge practices? What kind of an LLC program model could we create that exemplifies our work in our school, our district, or our state? What kind of program makes the LLC a central part of the entire school; that focus that principals used to say about the library being the hub of the school?

You are welcome to print out a poster size copy of the LIIITE model for use in your planning and then use our workshop model that might not be as pretty but is a Google document that can be used to create your own adaptation, or just throw it out and create one that is more meaningful to your students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

The original Google Drawing of the model is at: drawings/d/11b816ybjecoB0RvMmdQPFBrxFCAGgcMkM64DD8tizHg/edit. The version appearing in TL can be found at

The Workshop model is at: leXzGkPvKVWukZ_Rphfk7CjnhrAhHW8F_vleAMfOnqOE/edit.

As the new ISTE standards appear in the summer of 2016 and the AASL Standards in 2017 alongside the new science standards, perhaps we can develop ways, models, conversations, and actionable projects in every school to push forward in this century of wonderful opportunities for a new generation of creative contributors to their futures and ours.

The LIIITE Model of Teacher Librarians
What Today's Teacher Librarians Add to Cotaught Learning Experiences

        L                     I                      I

    LITERACIES           INFORMATION             INQUIRY &

   Cutting Edge          Cutting Edge           Cutting Edge

Builds skills        Helps learners         Coteaches inquiry
and enjoyment        take command of        projects from
including wide       connecting to high     beginning to end;
reading, digital     quality print and      facilitates self-
production and       digital resources      directed learning,
citizenship          across the global      making, and
across many          network.               creativity.
types of media
and information
formats and

        +                     +                      +
   Traditional           Traditional            Traditional

Concentrates on      Directs patrons to     Concentrates
building the love    information in         teaching on
of reading and       books, magazines,      finding, locating
storytelling as      and reference          and evaluating
the center of the    sources.               information for
library program                             teacher's

        I                     T                      E!

     DESIGNS                BOOSTS               LEADERSHIP

   Cutting Edge          Cutting Edge           Cutting Edge

Codesigns            Facilitates the use    Contributes
engaging learning    of the best tech       expertise to
experiences that     tools at the top of    enhance teaching
combine content      the SAMR model         and learning
knowledge and        that boost learning,   through
learning now to      creativity, and        collaborative
learn skills.        efficiency.            leadership.

        +                     +                      +
   Traditional           Traditional            Traditional

Direct teaching of   Encourages use of a    Builds a traditional
library skills,      wide variety of        library program that
research and the     technologies.          serves patrons who
love of reading.                            request services
                                            and resources.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A445116711