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!











Collaboration and Assessment

fair use fairy school A rubric that includes a cartwheel, scented paper, and handout dances? How does that measure learning about hot topic issues in school librarianship?  Why can’t assessment have a sense of fun and play?  See it here!

The end of the semester is a busy time in higher ed, but exams, projects, and reflections in coursework give instructors a chance to assess and celebrate student learning. Best educational practice and strategies for teaching may vary according to the developmental age of the students and by content, but a major goal in any classroom is to engage and excite learners. The question is how do you as an instructor recognize and honor learning?

Assessing student learning has not been a focus for teacher librarians in the past, but when new standards and collaboration enter the picture, TLs have to step up and be part of that process.

Learning about assessment through authentic examples embedded within a graduate course demonstrates possible techniques for creating assessments that inform both students and instructors about knowledge and performance.

Recently, my co-instructor and I here at the University of Vermont met with students face to face for the final class this semester.  The course is offered in a blended format, two face to face classes at the beginning and end of the semester, five videoconferencing sessions at various times, and Blackboard modules that support online communication and work.  The course, Management of School Library Media Centers, is an overview of the various administrative and leadership roles of the teacher librarian in the school environment.  Sounds dry, doesn’t it?  There are many projects and ways that students are assessed and self assess during the course.  Reflection through personal blogs is a major expectation. Written reports, and evidence of leadership and collaboration are also part of assessment. Technology is infused throughout, and students are encouraged to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone. Feedback is ongoing between instructors and students.  It’s a huge amount of work for both!

So, here we are wrapping up our time together by sharing the fruits of a semester long project that requires students to choose a hot topic of interest, find a group of like minded folks, collaborate across time and space to identify resources and talking points for the pros and cons of the issue, and to create a skit that shows evidence of learning to be performed at the final class.  Why not make it fun, and a bit less serious?  One way to do that is to ask the students to collaborate to devise a rubric that gets to the heart of the matter, but also encourages creativity, humor, and playfulness. Setting the expectations for both serious and playful criteria generates groans, but opens lots of possibilities that unleash creative juices.  The results on Saturday delighted us all.

A sampling of skits:

  • Remix/Fair use:  The Fair Use Fairy School-three fairies popped a quiz, “What would you do?”  Winners in the audience got to wear a super star cape and fairy dust.  Serious topic-good examples, and resources provided-and lots of laughs. (Photo above)
  • Graphic novels:  A disgruntled Grandma, happy ELL teacher, and struggling reader who turns a cartwheel at finding engaging literature. All with lavender scented handouts!
  • Banned books: Three points of view-grumpy parent, clueless administrator, and eager students ready to teach friends about censorship. Humor and satire galore revealed serious issues.
  • Grants:  Teacher librarian makes herself indispensable to a principal by leading the way in finding grants.  The principal says, “ We are eliminating your budget. I hope it doesn’t impact you too much!”  Skit included a baby born to one of the students during the course, adding a new criteria to the rubric.
  • Open source platforms: Panel of crazy hat people arguing the pros and cons of open vs. paid Integrated Library systems.  Great handout dance.
  • CIPA:  A manic dialogue between an administrator, a congressman, and the personification of art and porn-filled with clever humor about the purpose and quixotic implementation of  internet safety rules for children.

Who says teacher librarians can’t have fun?

Photo: Judy Kaplan






The iCentre: Australia School Libraries “Learning Commons” Concept

iCentre_iii_cropAt the 19th Treasure Mountain Research Retreat “The Learner in the Learning Commons” held in Hartford, Connecticut last month, keynoter Dr. Lyn Hay presented “An Anatomy of an iCentre.” Dr. Hay who teaches at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia has long held the belief that school libraries must be the information-technology hub of learning and that school librarians must provide curriculum leadership and bring all of the school/library stakeholders together in a collective, collaborative effort to transform teaching and learning. In the digital age, the iCentre model is a path toward sustainability for school libraries. These are my take-aways from Dr. Hay’s talk.

The leadership in the iCentre is shared among the librarian, IT faculty, curriculum coordinators, and more. Together, they have a shared commitment to bringing the technology that people use outside of the school walls and integrate it into school-based learning. Dr. Hay calls this “digital normalization.” (See The School Evolutionary Stages: The Concept of Global School Evolution blog.)

“The form the school library takes reflects the function” (Hay). Dr. Hay described the three “i’s” in the iCentre: information, immersion, and innovation. In the physical and virtual spaces of the library, school librarians teach individual learners as well as small groups and whole classes. They coteach with teachers to facilitate the iCentre’s information-technology convergence through the large flexible space and fluid design of the physical library.

If principals and architects bring a “bricks and mortar approach” to the library space redesign, it is essential that school librarians help them see the necessity of breaking out of traditional school library models. The role of the librarian should be of a leader who helps “fuse the work” of teaching and learning across the curriculum. School librarians must be key information, technology and learning leaders who combine their work with their colleagues’ efforts and reconcile various approaches to inquiry across the disciplines.

With a commitment to service, a core value of librarianship, school librarians can change library stakeholders’ expectations for their role. iCentre leaders can provide a strategic and operational framework for integrated learning that motivates and guides a whole school agenda. As such, the iCentre becomes an “innovation machine” in which students, teachers, specialists (including technology integrationists) see their roles blending and building in order to transform learning and teaching.

What impressed me most about Dr. Hay’s presentation was her focus on the adult learner leaders in the iCentre. Without the collaborative and innovative efforts of the schools’ adults, students will not have access to on-going transformative learning experiences. Check out Lyn Hay’s blog: Students Learning through School Libraries

Image created by Judi Moreillon in Microsoft Word with Scramble Font

Instructional Partnerships Deliver Success

wiki_logo_sizedThis is a special invitation to join us for a preconference workshop at the AASL National Convention next week in Hartford. Along with a team of school librarians and classroom teachers at each instructional level, I will be copresenting: Instructional Partnerships that Deliver Success: Meeting the Leadership Challenge. For a sneak peak, you can access our presentation wiki.

Our ½ -day workshop will be held on Thursday, November 14th from 8:30 to noon. As you can see from the agenda, we will share information and engage in conversations about how school librarians can enact successful instructional partnerships with classroom teachers. For one hour, the participants interact in instructional level groups and hear first-hand examples of effective strategies for working collaboratively with colleagues. We are delighted that classroom teachers will be joining us to provide first-person testimonials of their collaborative work with their school librarian.

Participants  will complete a puzzle that shows how inquiry learning and reading comprehension strategies align the work of school librarians as defined by AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner with the Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards. In addition, we will devote a half-hour slot to modeling and practicing close reading to help readers comprehend complex text.

And all along the way, we will have fun! Come learn with us because Instructional Partnerships (Do) Deliver Success. Together, we can rise up to meet the challenge! To find out about registering, go to the AASL Preconference Web page. If you have questions about our workshop, please post them here, or you can email me directly at:

I would also encourage you to visit the exhibit hall during the conference. In addition to vendors’ displays and presentations, you will find demonstrations in the AASL Booth related to various AASL resources. I would be remiss if I failed to mention our book Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway to Leadership. Coeditor Susan Ballard and I will be signing in the AASL Booth #1131 on Saturday, November 16th from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m.

And please stop by the Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Booth #328 where I will be signing my new picture book Ready and Waiting for You.

See you in Hartford!

Word cloud created at

Coteaching Is the Answer…

jm_toondoo_sizedI subscribe to the Teaching Channel email blast. I especially appreciate the real-time video productions posted there, especially since I am no longer serving in a school and do not work with pre-K-12 teachers and librarians on a daily basis. This recently posted video shows an instructional coach working with a classroom teacher.

When I viewed this video, I thought of the differences between coaches and coteachers (as suggested in the chart in a previous post this week).

Although I don’t have a series of comparison videos for coteachers working with pre-K students, I do have a series of YouTube-hosted videos taken during a demonstration lesson for an undergraduate teacher preparation program course at Texas Woman’s University in Fall 2012. These videos show how classroom teacher-school librarian coteaching can be enacted through coplanning, comodeling, comonitoring, and coteaching.

I hope viewers will note the differences for the educators as well for the students. My experience, supported by research in the field, suggests that 21st-century school librarians who practice the instructional partner role are uniquely positioned to elevate teaching and positively impact learning in their schools.

A Word about the Cartoon: Several years ago when I served in my first high school library, I started a graphic novel collection. These books were NEVER on the shelves, particularly during lunch when the Anime/Manga Club met to read, talk, and draw. This illustration, inspired by this genre, was drawn by Becca, a founding member of that club. I’d like to think that my super-hero work as an instructional partner had a part in inspiring her artwork as well.


Cartoon created at
Illustration by Becca – Used with Permission
Moreillon, J., & Hall, R. N. (2013). LS3013: Classroom-Library Collaboration Videos.
Teaching Channel. (2013). Value of Instructional Coaching.

Coteaching or Coaching: That is the question…

school-news-colorAccording to an article in the Daily Freeman, Kingston, New York spent $750K to hire five elementary and two middle school literacy coaches. When I read the article about how these coaches help facilitate literacy across the curriculum, motivate students through research centers, and provide job-embedded professional development to teachers, I wondered why school librarians aren’t being used in this capacity.

In the past ten years, while there has been a decline in the number of school librarians, there has been an increase in “coaching” positions such as instructional, literacy, reading, and technology coaches or integration specialists.

I served as a literacy coach for one year. I had been a successful coteacher as a school librarian prior to taking that position. I erroneously thought I could make a greater impact on instruction through an “authoritative” role; the teachers had to work with me. I returned to school librarianship the following year because, in my experience, coteaching was more effective than coaching, most notably in terms of the impact on adult learning—mine and that of my classroom teacher colleagues.

From where I sit on the “library team,” maximizing the school librarians’ impact through “coteaching” has several advantages over “coaching.”


What is your experience?


Hicks, M. A.. “School News.” Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Knowles, M. (1978). The adult learner: A neglected species. (2nd ed.). Boston: Gulf.



COMMON sCOREs: Instructional Partnerships that Deliver Success

Common_Scores_logo_sizedIn 2011, Maria Cahill, Rebecca McKee, and I conducted a study of state-level librarian conferences. Our research questions centered on the professional development focused on each of the five roles of school librarians offered at these conferences. We conducted a content analysis and reviewed the data in several conference categories and we looked at the data across all conferences as well.

We learned that the instructional partner role of school librarians is the least represented in state-level conference sessions. (You can read the complete study report in School Library Research.)

Does that mean that school librarians are not consistently practicing this role? Or are we not submitting conference session proposals that spotlight our instructional partnerships? Or are conference planners not selecting instructional partnership sessions from among those proposed?

For whatever reason, many of us believe it is essential to counteract this trend. Some in the school librarian profession are renewing our commitment to presenting workshops and conference sessions focused on the benefits to students and educators of classroom-library collaboration for instruction.

I am a member of a team of school librarians and classroom teachers who will share our instructional partnership experiences at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) conference in Chicago later this month. Judi Paradis and her teaching partner first-grade teacher Marianne Duffy will represent the elementary school perspective. Sabrina Carnesi and her teaching partner Naadira Mubarak will share their collaborative work at the middle school level. Stacy Cameron and I will share our high school examples.

Here’s a description of our preconference:
What is the core of 21st-century school librarianship? How does OUR core relate to the Common Core State Standards and other state standards? What are the skills, dispositions, responsibilities, and self-assessments we can apply to co-achieve uncommon success? This preconference will provide strategies for demonstrating the school librarian’s central role in the academic program through practicing instructional partnerships to ensure success for K-12 students, teachers, administrators, librarians, and for the school librarian profession, too.

If you are headed to Chicago to attend the ALA Annual Conference, I hope you will consider attending our preconference workshop. It will be held on Friday, June 28th from 8:30 a.m. to noon. For more information about all of the preconference workshop offered at the conference this year, visit the AASL Web site.

See you in Chicago.

Work Cited

Moreillon, Judi, Maria Cahill, and Rebecca McKee. State Library Conferences as Professional Development Venues: Unbalanced Support for the AASL-defined Roles of the School Librarian. School Library Research 15. 29 July 2012. Web. 06 June 2013 <>.

Word Cloud created at


Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships

Best_of_KQ_IPsAlong with AASL President Susan Ballard, I co-edited the just-released Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway to Leadership. Susan and I had the opportunity to select outstanding articles written by scholars, researchers, and practitioners in the field. Gleaned from more than a decade of issues of Knowledge Quest, the journal of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), this book attests to the fact that the call to serve in the instructional partner role is not new AND it is timely!

Check out the press release on the ALA Web site.

In the changing landscape of 21st-century education, this role may be more imperative than ever. Whether your school is in the process of “reforming” or “transforming” the academic program (see Judy Kaplan’s May 28th post), it is essential that school librarians are fully engaged and yes, lead, in these efforts. The Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships is organized in three categories: instructional partnerships in the broad context, research related to instructional partnerships, and classroom-library instructional partnership in action. The authors of the articles in the book provide a framework, research evidence, and examples from their own practice to help school library colleagues take the lead. Kudos to all of you!

Implementing instructional partnerships is not easy. It requires many of the “habits of mind” (Costa and Kallick) expected of 21st-century learners including flexibility, persistence, practicing critical thinking, reflection, and metacognition, and above all, continuous learning. If educators expect P-12 students to achieve these dispositions and practice these behaviors, then it behooves us to model these for them. Creating, developing, and sustaining instructional partnerships with colleagues is one way to do just that.

AASL has made the “Coteaching” Webinar that Susan and I hosted in March 2012 freely available on the Web for thirty days. Several authors from the KQ 40.4 “Coteaching” issue shared their experiences during the Webinar; some of their articles were reproduced in this Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships monograph.

Works Cited

Costa, Arthur L. and Kallick, Bena. (Eds). Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008. Print.

Moreillon, Judi, and Susan Ballard. (Eds.) The Best of KQ: Instructional Partnerships: A Pathway to Leadership. Chicago: American Association of School Librarians, 2013. Print.

Reading and Making Connections at the Core

One of the findings of “Creating 21st-Century Learners: A Report on Pennsylvania’s Public School Libraries” is this: “The overall findings fit with research we’ve seen in other states–access to a full-time, certified school librarian significantly impacts students achievement in reading.”

In my PSLA Conference ’13 keynote, Leadership Begins with a Bag of Chocolates, I shared the image above to show the connections among inquiry, coteaching, technology, and reading. Reading is, to my way of thinking, at the core of our mission as school librarians. Reading proficiency is surely at the core of the Common Core State Standards.

Traditionally, school librarians have considered themselves educators who promote a love of reading rather than as coteachers of reading comprehension strategies. If we take the results of the PA School Library Project to heart, we should consider the school librarian’s potential to impact reading proficiency through integrating reading strategies into our cotaught inquiry units of study. Integrating technology, inquiry, and reading through coteaching


Moreillon, Judi. “Reading-Inquiry-Technology-Coteaching Connections.” Digital Image. From the Personal Collection of Judi Moreillon.

PA School Library Project. 2012. “Creating 21st-Century Learners: A Report on Pennsylvania’s Public School Libraries.” PA School Library Project.

School Structures that Support Collaborative Cultures

In our conversations about collaborative cultures, it is important to remember that classrooms and school libraries are situated within a system called “school.” Systems have structures that support or hinder the growth of their members. Teacher isolation is one structure that has – for far too long – created barriers to educators’ professional development and to school reform.

“Teacher isolation is so deeply ingrained in the traditional fabric of schools that leaders cannot simply invite teachers to create a collaborative culture. They must identify and implement specific, strategic interventions that help teachers to work together rather than alone” (DuFour 14).

When we consider how school librarians can serve as essential leaders in building a culture of collaboration in schools, we must consider the structures within which we work. Fixed library schedules are one tradition that thwarts school librarians’ efforts to serve as equal partners in instruction with classroom teachers.

In fixed library schedule schools, learners come to the library once a week for a brief lesson and book checkout. Often times, classroom teachers do not stay in the library with their class. There is very little instructional time and whatever concepts or skills are taught are not revisited until the next week during the regularly scheduled time. This practice is contrary to what we know about how people learn. It is not a best practice.

Roger Grape is an elementary school librarian in Dallas Independent School District. He created a digital advocacy story targeted to a school principal audience to promote flexible scheduling in libraries. He advocates for giving classroom teachers and school librarians opportunities to coteach and co-facilitate student learning. As Roger notes, with the support of two educators and given the time they need to practice deep learning, students will achieve more.

Check out “Bendy, Twisty, Flexible Scheduling” by Roger Grape! (And thank you, Roger, for giving me permission to share your work.)

Works Cited

DuFour, Richard. “In the Right Context: The Effective Leader Concentrates on a Foundation of Programs, Procedures, Beliefs, Expectations, and Habits.” Journal of Staff Development 22.1 (2001): 14-17. Print.

Grape, Roger. Bendy, Twisty, Flexible Scheduling. Mar. 2013. 1 Apr. 2013. <>.