What We Teach

What We Teach

Henrico County Public School librarians teach the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learners.  The AASL Standards focus on library education in an era in which learning is constantly and rapidly changing and expanding.  The Standards enable students to adapt to the dynamic world of the 21st century and give them a solid foundation for lifelong learning.  They teach students necessary proficiencies in areas such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.



The four AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learners are:

  1. Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.
  2. Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
  3. Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.
  4. Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.


Each Standard has four strands:

  1. Skills
  2. Dispositions
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Self-Assessment Strategies

All Strands have a list of Indicators, which are specific goals the students should reach in that Strand.  Further explanations of the Strands are below.

Skills highlight the skills in each Standard that should be mastered by students such as evaluating information critically and employing “inquiry based research”.

  • Example 1: Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry (Indicator 1.1.8).
  • Example 2: Connect learning to community issues (Indicator 3.1.5).

Dispositions enable students to acquire “behaviors, attitudes, and habits” for active learning and emphasize the difference between having knowledge and using knowledge, with the latter being the goal.

  • Example 1: Employ a critical stance in drawing conclusions by demonstrating the pattern of evidence leads to a decision or conclusion (Indicator 2.2.3).
  • Example 2: Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others (Indicator 3.2.3).

Responsibilities teach students how to be responsible, ethical, and open-minded learners.

  • Example 1: Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers (Indicator 1.3.1).
  • Example 2: Respect the differing interests and experiences of others, and seek a variety of viewpoints (Indicator 3.3.2).

Self-Assessment Strategies teach students how to look at the work they have created and assess the strengths and weaknesses, reflect on what could be improved, and decide how to adjust strategies in further learning opportunities.

  • Example 1: Use interaction with and feedback from teachers and peers to guide own inquiry process (Indicator 1.4.4).

Example 2: Evaluate own ability to select resources that are engaging and appropriate for personal interests and needs (Indicator 4.4.6).

Benchmarks, Sample Behaviors, and Self-Questioning

Skills have Benchmarks, which outline necessary knowledge that students should acquire by certain grades, specifically by grades 2, 5, 8, 10, and 12.  Dispositions and Responsibilities have Sample Behaviors that students should be employing.  Self-Assessment Strategies gives many examples of questions that students are encouraged to ask themselves throughout the learning process.  Meeting the Benchmarks and Sample Behaviors and developing good Self-Questioning techniques enable students to be successful and productive in all areas of their lives.

Examples of Benchmarks for Skills:

  • By Grade 2, students will “Identify one or two keywords about a topic, problem, or question” (Indicator 1.1.2).
  • By Grade 8, students will “Determine patterns and discrepancies by comparing and combining information available in different sources” (Indicator 2.1.4).
  • By Grade 12, students will “Prepare and deliver a professional presentation to audiences outside of school using technology as a medium of presentation” (Indicator 3.1.4).

The Dispositions and Responsibilities Strands have Sample Behaviors that students should accomplish, as well as Stages of Development that will help students meet the criteria of the Sample Behaviors.

Examples of Sample Behaviors for Dispositions:

  • “Revise resources based on information found” (Indicator 1.2.2).
  • “Establish a research plan that outlines learning goals, identifies major tasks and deadlines to achieve steps toward the goals, and documents progress throughout the research process” (Indicator 2.2.4).

Examples of Sample Behaviors for Responsibilities:

  • “Differentiate clearly between information gathered from sources and original thinking and conclusions” (Indicator 1.3.3).
  • “Engage with others in discussions and debates around important issues” (Indicator 3.3.3).

The Self-Assessment Strategies Strand helps students take ownership of their learning by continually asking themselves questions throughout the process which will enable the students to adjust and adapt their plans of action as needed.

Examples of Self-Questioning for Self-Assessment Strategies:

  • “Have I located sources with diverse perspectives?” (Standard 1)
  • “How does the evidence I found help me form an opinion or support my thesis?” (Standard 2)
  • “What technology will help me create a product or presentation?” (Standard 3)
  • “How can I express my own ideas creatively and effectively?” (Standard 4)