Graphic Inquiry: Dynamic Differentiation and Digital Age Learning

Article excerpt

Each student is unique. The teacher librarian plays an important role in matching resources and technologies to the individual needs of young people.

By partnering with grade-level and departmental teams, the teacher librarian can focus on the needs of subgroups of students within the school, developing learning experiences that address student readiness, personal interests, and engaging choices.

Back in the 1990s, the process of "differentiated instruction" was identified by Carol Ann Tomlinsonas a way to provide varied avenues for students to construct knowledge. Over the past decade, the approach has been applied to the process of combining traditional resources with twenty-first century technologies to meet the needs of all students.


We'll use the book The Jewel Fish of Karnack by Graeme Baseas an example. Watch the Author's Introduction ( watch?v=72MViFwy02U) to learn more about the author, book, and game. Then read the book. Go to the website to solve the Puzzle ( Use KeepVid ( to download the video for use with a class.

Let's consider the many ways this book could be used to jumpstart learning.

First, think about how the book mixes nonfiction with a fictional story. For instance, reading the inside of The Jewel Fish of Karnak book cover provides background information related to the story set in Ancient Egypt. How could you connect other works of fiction with factual information and content area standards?

Second, look for visual elements, codes, games, and other elements that will bring content area learning alive. For instance, The Jewel Fish of Karnak includes history-based characters, hieroglyphs, and other interesting elements. What other picture books have interesting visual elements that could expand interest?


Third, use the author's website materials, including videos, games, mysteries, and other elements, to bring reading alive. For instance, Graeme Base's website contains a video that introduces the book, a game area, and other interesting information. What authors have resources that you can use to expand a reading experience?

The Problem ... Most books don't have great nonfiction resources and fun games.

The Solution ... Build your own!

To find great resources, do a Google search for your topic and add the word "pathfinder" to see what other librarians and classroom teachers have created, such as Ancient Egypt (

There are many great books set in Ancient Egypt, such as:

The 5000 Year Old Puzzle by Claudia Logan

Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola

Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory

Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo

I Am the Mummy Nefert by Eve Bunting

Mrs. Frizzle's Adventures in Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne

Muti's Necklace by Louise Hawes

Pepi and the Secret Names by Jill Paton Walsh

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner

The Time Warp Trio: Tut, Tut by Jon Scieszka

We're Sailing Down the Nile by Laurie Krebs and Anne Wilson

Much of The Magic and the Mummy by Terry Deary can be read at Google Books ( Use these previews to generate interest.

Infuse quality nonfiction resources associated with fictional works:


British Museum: www.ancientegypt.

Canadian Museum of Civilization: egypt/egypt_e.shtml

Egyptian Mythology: www.pantheon. org/areas/mythology/africa/egyptian/articles.html

Eternal Egypt:

Great Scott: www.greatscott. …