Inquiry and Reading Comprehension Twitter Chat Summary

On Monday, September 23, 2019, graduate students in “IS516: School Library Media Center” participated in a bimonthly Twitter chat. The chat was based on the pull quotes from Chapter 3: Inquiry Learning and Chapter 4: Traditional Literacy Learning in Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy (ALA 2018).

These are the four questions that guided our Twitter chat

As the course facilitator, Twitter chat moderator, and chair of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Reading Position Statements Task Force, I had a pressing reason to mine students’ thinking, experiences, and questions. While the critical role of reading competence is one of AASL’s core beliefs (AASL 2018, 4) and inquiry is one of the shared foundations described in depth in the new standards (67-74), the link between the reading comprehension and inquiry learning is not explicit.

A question posed recently on a popular school librarian Facebook group heightened my level of concern for how school librarians perceive their roles as teachers of reading and how they view the relationship between information literacy (or inquiry) and reading comprehension strategies.

These are a sampling of the students’ tweets.

Beliefs (about information, inquiry learning, and reading comprehension strategies)

A4. Inquiry, information literacy, and reading comprehension are like a three-legged stool. Without any one of the three, we don’t really understand why we keep falling down.  #is516

A.3: Common beliefs: Literacy is IMPORTANT & ESSENTIAL! Reading = foundational skill necessary for success in school/life. Literacy support is more than promoting reading #is516

A3: Both classroom T’s and #schoollibrarians highly value traditional literacies. Reading, writing, listening & speaking are core parts of learning. Without mastering these skills, students aren’t able to properly learn about other subjects or succeed in life. #is516 @iSchooK12

A.3 SLs & Ts believe literacy learning involves giving Ss listening, speaking, writing, technology, print, inquiry, & reading comprehension strategies thru multimodal texts. SLs serve as literacy leaders in their schools. #is516 @iSchoolK12

Ts discuss all the time the transition from learning to read and reading to learn. Ss have to have solid reading skills to thrive in an academic setting. This Ts and #schoollibrarians can agree on.

A.4. All (reading comprehension/information literacy/inquiry learning) require strategy and skill to be successful. With purposeful planning and teaching, Ss will learn how to critically evaluate sources, & read deeply/comprehend across various types of text/media, to be able to successfully participate in inquiry at its fullest.  #is516

A.3 Another common belief between both teachers and librarians is that the reading element of literacy is not the only important kind. In this day and age, digital literacy is just as important. #is516

A.3: They share a belief that inquiry is an important foundational skill for literacy, which leads to larger opportunities for students as they grow. They also both believe strongly in students’ right to privacy and intellectual freedom. #is516 @ischoolk12

A.4 @iSchoolK12 Inquiry can’t be done w/o reading comprehension. Ss must be able to support themselves thru difficult texts in order to inquire & reach sufficient conclusions. Plus, inquiry can’t be done w/o the ability to sort thru information & determine what’s valuable #is516

Current Experience

A1: In #Together203, our middle school science curriculum is entirely inquiry-based. There is a guiding essential question for each lesson & students come to an understanding of the world around them by participating in hands-on research labs. #is516 @ischoolk12

A.1. Inquiry/Research is mostly left up to the teacher, but it is very heavily encouraged! Our math and science curriculum have geared strongly towards #inquirylearning in just the 6 years I’ve taught at my school. #is516 @iSchoolK12

A1. Our Juniors currently engage in very inquiry through their research projects. Students get to choose an independent reading book and then research a theme or question based on their book. This gives students a choice but also provides a focus. #is516 @iSchoolk12

A.1 Currently, research is used much more in our school compared to inquiry.  Inquiry is mostly seen in science and social studies, but has yet to be integrated well into other subjects. #is516 @ischoolk12

A.1 I mostly saw traditional research in my school. Inquiry research was only done in gifted classes. Low Socio-Eco school, admin wanted classes CC & curriculum-centered. Gifted Ts got all the fun! SLs did no classroom literacy instruction #is516 @iSchoolK12

Less-than-ideal Current Practice

I have never worked in an educational environment when Librarians/Teachers collaborate and have only seen traditional research done in the classrooms…I wonder if other teachers realize what they are missing out on by not collaborating with librarians?

A1 We’re pretty traditional – more research than inquiry based. Individual classes do their own lessons. For instance, ELA classes do a WW2 project in 8th grade, focused on life on the homefront. @ischoolk12 #is516

A.1 I mostly saw traditional research in my school. Inquiry research was only done in gifted classes. Low Socio-Eco school, admin wanted classes CC & curriculum-centered. Gifted Ts got all the fun! SLs did no classroom literacy instruction #is516 @iSchoolK12

#is516 in the study on teacher and librarian #perceptions about #collaboration, #less than 50% of #librarians believed they should help with teaching note taking skills. #whoshoulddowhat remains an issue

Quote Tweet
A.3 Common beliefs are essential starting places for #collaboration. In my experience not all middle & high school Ts in all disciplines saw themselves as “teachers of reading.” This is also true of some #schoollibrarians who do not see themselves as “teachers of reading.” #is516

Effective Practices

A4: #inquiry is reliant on information literacy & reading comprehension. Without understanding text, the information is lost. Being able to recognize when info is needed, find it, assess it, & apply it is a fundamental part of inquiry. #is516 @iSchoolK12

The skills do seem to build upon one another and they are all necessary for total success. #is516 @ischoolk12

Quote Tweet
A4: Once Ss can get a handle on reading comprehension, skills like making predictions come more naturally, which allows them to move thru the inquiry process. @ischoolk12 #is516

A.3 In the past few years Ts across disciplines within my school have started purposefully teaching reading strategies within their classes. It’d been greatly beneficial in increasing student comprehension, esp. w Nonfiction texts. #is516 @iSchoolK12

A.4) #InquiryBasedLearning works best when there is a solid foundation of #infoliteracy and #readingcomprehension skills. Ts and #schoollibrarians who help foster these skills are helping curious students be stronger researchers and info seekers #is516 @iSchoolK12

A4: Reading comprehension is paramount. We use the making #textconnections strategies in ELA classes. Being able to connect to a text is the 1st step. @ischoolk12 #is516

A.4  #inquiry, info literacy, & reading comprehension are all tools and strategies that allow Ss to build their knowledge, encourage deeper learning, and become personally and academically competent #is516 @iSchoolK12

Reading Proficiency: A Foundational Skill
The importance of the foundational skill of reading can support or hinder a student’s ability to negotiate meaning in both print and digital texts. Readers applying comprehension strategies such as activating background knowledge, questioning, making predictions and drawing inferences, determining importance or main ideas, and synthesizing regardless of the genre or format of the text. Readers “read” illustrations, videos, audiobooks, and multimodal websites. In this environment, “school librarians can do more than promote reading. We can accept the role as instructional partners in teaching reading [and inquiry] and thrive in performing it” (Tilly 2013, 7).

These preservice school librarians agree that people can be reading proficient without being information literate, but a person cannot be information literate and engage in inquiry learning without comprehending what they read, view, or hear. It is my intention that they will take this understanding into their practice as educators and librarians.

Note: The tweets quoted here are used with permission and the whole class provided me with permission to link to our Wakelet archive (see below).

Works Cited

American Association of School Librarians. 2018. National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries. Chicago: ALA.

Inquiry and Reading Comprehension Strategies. Twitter Chat #2.

Tilly, Carol L. 2013. Reading instruction and school librarians. School Library Monthly 30 (3): 5-7.


This entry was posted in Book Study, Inquiry, IS516, LIS Education, Maximizing School Librarian Leadership, Reading and tagged , , , , , by Judi Moreillon. Bookmark the permalink.

About Judi Moreillon

Judi Moreillon, M.L.S, Ph.D., has served as a school librarian at every instructional level. In addition, she has been a classroom teacher, literacy coach, and district-level librarian mentor. Judi has taught preservice school librarians since 1995. She taught courses in instructional partnerships and school librarian leadership, multimedia resources and services, children’s and young adult literature, and storytelling. Her research agenda focuses on the professional development of school librarians for the leadership and instructional partner roles. Judi just completed editing and contributing to Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021). She has published four other professional books including Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy (ALA 2018). (See the book study on this blog.) Judi earned the American Library Association's 2019 Scholastic Library Publishing Award.

4 thoughts on “Inquiry and Reading Comprehension Twitter Chat Summary

  1. I’ve taken quite some time reading the Twitter Chat responses you’ve shared, Judi, and have found them fascinating, as I did the 400 responses to the question posed on the Future Ready Librarians group on Facebook. Overall, I agree with nearly everything your students posted. I’m intrigued with your statement that appeared at both the beginning and the end of the summary:

    “These preservice school librarians agree that people can be reading proficient without being information literate, but a person cannot be information literate and engage in inquiry learning without comprehending what they read, view, or hear.”

    I do have one question, and one comment regarding the above statement:

    1. What is the assumed meaning of reading proficient?
    2. The three critical pieces here are information literacy, inquiry learning, and reading comprehension — all interrelated, but not the same. Reading comprehension is the critical first pieces, and allows for successful inquiry studies, which builds and scaffolds information literacy. These 3 competencies are not a ladder, and I don’t mean to imply such. They build and grow as students engage in all three. This was the essence of the Facebook chat, and in your students’ Twitter responses.

    • Dear Christina,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
      To answer your questions.
      1. For me, reading proficiency means having the comprehension skills to meet the literacy demands of the text and the task (purpose for reading). When students are engaged in information literacy (resource evaluation, in particular) and inquiry (all phases), they often encounter texts above their reading proficiency level. It is at those times they benefit from interventions that help them comprehend challenging texts in order to complete the task.
      2. I agree that all three of these strategies are interrelated (as per the quote) and that they grow and develop in relationship to each other (and throughout our lifetimes).
      3. However, I had a totally different interpretation of the comments on Facebook. The majority of those responses simply said, “no/nope” to the question about whether or not information literacy and reading comprehension strategies are the same thing. While I believe the question was not worded to reach the level of complexity necessary to discuss the intersection of these strategies, I disagree with these “no” responses. When students are evaluating resources, they must (intentionally or automatically) apply comprehension strategies. In those moments, information literacy skills and reading comprehension strategies are, for all intents and purposes, “the same thing.”

  2. Interesting viewpoints. A couple more questions/comments:

    1. So proficiency is comprehension only? Not fluency, decoding (including both phonics and phonemic awareness), and vocabulary? In my Ph.D. Work in early literacy I learned, and have applied since, a broader view of what reading proficiency entails.

    2. Well said. Completely agree.

    3. In rereading the original Facebook post the question was if information literacy and reading comprehension (not strategies) were the same. And evaluating resources is only one skill necessary in the journey to becoming information literate. There are many more skills necessary on that journey. Mike Eisenberg writes “Information literacy (IL) is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, as well as to filter out the information we don’t need.” And researcher Jeff Wilhelm defines reading comprehension as
    “the capacity to perceive and understand the meanings communicated by texts.” Clearly the second is a part of the first, but just as clearly, they aren’t synonymous.

    • Dear Christina,
      Thank you for continuing the conversation.

      1. I agree. As aspects of comprehension, all of those skills and strategies you mention allow readers to accomplish the task, the purpose for reading. All of them contribute to the reader’s ability to make meaning (comprehension).

      3. I will agree to disagree with you. As I noted previously, the question was worded in such a way as to not delve into the complexity of both information literacy and reading comprehension. Mike Eisenberg agreed with my response to him: readers must apply reading comprehension strategies in order to evaluate information. Without evaluation and the ability to use information, what is information literacy? Determining the need and location only? Where is the “literacy”?

      New: I believe school librarians have a timely opportunity to connect with reading research: Online reading comprehension “consists of a process of problem-based inquiry across many different online information sources, requiring several recursive reading practices: (a) reading online to identify important questions; (b) reading online to locate information; (c) reading online to critically evaluate information; (d) reading online to synthesize information; and (e) reading online to communicate information. During these events, new online and traditional offline reading comprehension skills are both required, often in complex and interrelated ways” (Leu et al. 2011, 5).

      For me, this is where information literacy skills and reading comprehension strategies perfectly align.

      Leu, Donald J., J. Gregory McVerry, W. Ian O’Byrne, Carita Kiili, Lisa Zawilinski, Heidi Everett-Cacopardo, Clint Kennedy, and Elena Forzani. 2011. “The New Literacies of Online Reading Comprehension: Expanding the Literacy and Learning Curriculum.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 55 (1): 5-14.

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