School Librarians Team Up With Teachers to Create Freely Available STEM Lessons

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — September 04, 2015 2 min read
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School librarians and STEM teachers in seven New Hampshire school districts are working together to co-plan and share lessons as part of a program aimed at bridging the gap between librarians—and the resources they have access to—and STEM teachers, who are increasingly tasked with focusing on literacy in their classrooms.

“School Librarians Advancing STEM Learning” is a three-year program being run by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, or ISKME, a nonprofit that has focused on open educational resources and collaboration in education. The project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and involves Granite State College, the New Hampshire Department of Education, the New Hampshire Institutes of Higher Education Network, and the American Library Association.

This year, 25 STEM teachers and librarians are being trained and supported in co-planning lessons. The lessons are then shared on a site known as the Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons, on which teachers can create and search for educational resources for free. Meanwhile, a group of eight faculty members at Granite State University are also creating lessons and resources for librarians-to-be at as part of a program aimed at preparing librarians to be instructional leaders.

Amee Evans Godwin, the director of innovation at the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, said the program is aimed at filling several gaps.

She said the program is timely and useful for STEM teachers, who are expected to incorporate more literacy-related activities as a result of the Common Core State Standards. "[The standards] have demands around using texts that are not in the textbook,” she said. “STEM teachers might not have as much familiarity with that.”

She said many teachers are also not aware of the resources that are available to them for free or through their librarian. “There’s a gap where school librarians are not seen as central members of the instructional team. They’re marginalized,” Godwin said. “We are looking to change that so their expertise is recognized.”

“This is going beyond a traditional ‘I’ll find you a good book’ kind of role,” she said. “The librarian is acting as a lead around curriculum design and the selection of anchor texts and supplementary materials. They’re acting as a curator.”

The New Hampshire teachers and librarians are already sharing lessons and resources ranging from games about forensics to checklists for common core-aligned literacy selections on the OER Commons. For instance, a template for a “STEM Inquiry Lesson” guides librarians and STEM teachers through a process for creating a multidisciplinary lesson.

The program will be expanded to North Carolina in its third year. Godwin said a number of universities have expressed interest in creating programs similar to the one at Granite State that aim to build librarians’ instructional leadership skills.

Image via Getty

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.