Learning Plans & Activities
Authentic Learning in the Library and Beyond - Part I

This is the first of a four-lesson authentic learning unit in which high school math students devise ways to improve test scores and understanding for middle school math students.






Math teachers


Students will discuss common problem learning areas in math.

Students will research difficulty areas in their district's middle school mathematics program through use of test scores and learner surveys.


Internet and computers
White board or screen
Test results from district middle school math assessments
Note paper or tablets
Exit slips


Two class periods


AASL National School Library Standards

III.A.2. Developing new understandings through engagement in a learning group.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

Varies according to the areas that students choose to focus on.

Instructional Procedure

Day 1

Class meets in the library. The math teacher introduces a discussion by asking learners which math concepts or problems they had the most issues with in middle school. Allow students to call out responses while the librarian posts them on a white board.

Have students Turn and Talk about why these were of particular difficulty and, with their current math knowledge, what ideas they have to make learning them easier. Ask what they wished someone had done for them and encourage them to think outside the box. Have students share out their answers and add them to the board. Encourage learners to share what methods help them learn best: through visuals, listening, sketching, manipulating materials, or other ways.

Ask learners to think about this more before the next meeting, perhaps asking younger siblings about their experiences.

Day 2

Pass out test scores from the district that show statistics and problem areas for middle school and have learners self-select groups to analyze them. The math teacher should explain how to read these results before groups get started. Circulate with the teacher among groups to support on-task working!

Call the class back together and compare the issues highlighted by test scores with the student-generated list.
Highlight the areas that test scores show need improvement. Now allow learners to get into groups by math concept (student choice) and begin brainstorming ways that this concept can be taught.

Ask learners to put their ideas on a class Google Doc.


Either make sure groups are mixed with students who have varied levels of mathematical understanding or place learners in groups by ability. (This does take away student choice!)


On Day 1, observe learner engagement and participation.

On Day 2, have learners complete an exit slip with these questions: What do you think of this project? In what ways have you supported your group?

Additional Resources

Other lesson plans in this unit:

About the Author

Liz Deskins, MA, currently serves as an instructor in the School of Information at Kent State University and has been a teacher-librarian for more than 25 years. She earned her master's degree from the Ohio State University and is coauthor of the books LGBTQAI+ Books for Children and Teens: Providing a Window for All (ALA Editions, 2018) and Linking Picture Book Biographies to National Content Standards: 200+ Lives to Explore (Libraries Unlimited, 2015). She has served in numerous leadership roles within both the Ohio Educational Library Media Association and the American Association of School Librarians.

MLA Citation Deskins, Liz. "Authentic Learning in the Library and Beyond - Part I." School Library Connection, May 2019, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2201175.

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Entry ID: 2201175

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