The Willow School library serves as the information center of the School by providing physical and intellectual access to materials and ideas in various formats. There are four essential components of the framework for instruction within the library program: to promote self-education by modeling an inquiry-based approach to learning, to foster a love of reading for information as well as enjoyment, to develop the skills and resources necessary for students to become effective and ethical users of information in a global society, and to support collaboration between classroom curricular areas and Willow’s Library Program.
An inquiry-based approach to learning is at the heart of the Library Program. Students are taught to build on prior knowledge to construct new knowledge for both defined and self-defined purposes. Students are explicitly taught information search processes to guide them in their search for knowledge and in connecting this information to the outside world. Students learn to formulate appropriate questions when seeking information and learn how to effectively use print and digital resources in their research.
Reading is the foundational skill for learning and personal growth. The extent to which students can use information depends upon their ability to understand what they read and to integrate their understanding with what they already know. The reading strategies needed to strengthen decoding, comprehension, and fluency skills are modeled in formal instruction as they are woven into library lessons. A current, high-quality, high-interest collection is maintained and cultivated to support independent reading as well as listening for understanding and enjoyment. Students are afforded opportunities to appreciate and respond to literature within the library class and with the larger school community. Students are encouraged to explore both fiction and nonfiction through read-alouds, author studies, and book-talks.
In order for students to successfully navigate the fluid boundaries of our global society, they must be able to demonstrate the qualities of global citizenship. Therefore, students are taught to seek diverse perspectives, use social tools responsibly and safely, and gather and use information ethically. These key concepts of legal, ethical, and social responsibility in accessing, using, and creating information in various formats are additionally supported by The Willow School’s virtues program. Students are encouraged to become more reflective about the choices they make as they participate in their own learning through the use of digital technologies.
Collaboration between the librarian and classroom teachers allows for shared learning experiences that meet individual student needs. Lessons are designed to support both content and skills objectives within the various academic disciplines at each grade level. Third graders through eighth graders are given the tools and strategies necessary to navigate the wealth of information available to them. Explicit instruction and repeated practice in evaluating information for reliability is a main emphasis of the library curriculum. In all grades, students are encouraged to share their knowledge through the use of multiple formats, often using innovative technology to present data and information in compelling and creative ways.