At a recent district conference, author and consultant Jay McTighe spoke at length about how to use essential questions in the classroom to deepen student connection and learning. After his presentation, I was reminded of the work that the Science Leadership Academy has done to lead with essential questions, and also musing on Andy Plemmons’ inspiring work last year, documenting his own goals and work through his blog. All of those things inspired me to think about how our district’s libraries could use essential questions both to guide our work and to provide advocacy for our services.
Our librarians spent a day talking about what we hope to accomplish with students and brainstormed key questions we think libraries K-12 are about.
We landed on these questions:
- What does it mean to be curious?
- How can I explore?
- How can I take action?
I’m in the process of designing a logo or branding(or having students design one). We’ve summarized the questions on some of our websites with the tagline curiosity-exploration-action.
Thinking about libraries as centers for curiosity shifts the perspective a little bit—rather than just the place for answers. And again, thinking of the library as a place for exploration opens up a different sense of what a library is. Our last question shifts the focus to action – connecting to the belief that our students are capable of real world action—whether it is creating some sort of document or project, or changing the world, or anything in between.
I used Canva to create posters representing each question. (See examples below). We are working to engage students in designing examples as well. And following the lead of my colleague TechChef4U who creates cards out of photographic prints, we are working on designing a “card” that represents our core questions (see above).
Having these questions not only centers my own thinking about my work with students (much like Andy Plemmons did), but it helps me reflect more on what I want our library to really be about.
What are your library’s essential questions?