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Why personalized learning should start in school libraries

Library experts discuss 6 specific ways libraries can best leverage personalized learning for every student.

With personalization a growing initiative in schools, the library may not be the first thing educators think of as a resource. However, according to Michelle Luhtala, library department chair at New Canaan High School, CT, and Jackie Whiting, librarian at New Canaan High School, the library is often the best place to look for personalizing instruction through assessing, reading and making.

How Libraries are Personalized Learning Hotspots

1. Libraries can track unique student data

During Luhtala and Whiting’s webinar “Personalizing Instruction Through the Library,” hosted by and sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources, the library experts discussed how the New Canaan High School Library uses a database to keep track of the work done with students, enabling educators to keep tabs on any students in need of extra help.

2. Libraries can help close learning gaps

The library also has a “text the library” service, which allows students to anonymously text questions to the library. The webinar presenters said these questions help provide insight on any instructional gaps within the classroom, which the library can later give a lesson on. By encouraging the use of technology, the students can help take charge of their learning, as well as highlight what they would like to focus on during their lessons.

3. Libraries can encourage learning through personal interests

To personalize reading to the students, Whiting uses some of the library’s empty shelf space to create book displays based off themes of interest like movies, sports, and history. She also asked New Canaan’s teachers to take pictures with their favorite books and hung the pictures around the library. That way, she explained, students could get book recommendations from their favorite teachers. Luhtala and Whiting have also provided different spaces of the library for different kinds of learning. “We really want them to be thoughtful about how they’re going to use their time in the space and choose a space that suits their learning needs at that moment,” said Luhtala.

(Next page: How libraries encourage personalized learning 3-6)

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