Twitter is everywhere these days and people are using it to talk – about librarians. On Tuesday, there was a long conversation about the role librarians should play in schools today and if they are even capable of playing it!
Joyce Valenza responded to the conversation with some very perceptive comments, as usual. She said:
Being an information (or media) specialist today means being an expert in how information and media flow TODAY! It is about knowing how information and media are created and communicated. How to evalute, synthesize, and ethically use information and media in all their varied forms. It is about being able to communicate knowlege in new ways for new audiences using powerful new information and communication tools.
In my mind, if you are not an expert in new information and communication tools, you are NOT a media specialist for today.
Joyce also pointed out that the Twitter conversation took place out in the open where anyone could follow it. If these are the kinds of things people are saying in public, what are they saying in private?
What are people saying about the librarians in our district? Initiatives like 23 Things and other staff development sessions that we offer are designed to help our folks be the kind of information specialists that are required in the 21st century.
Is it making enough of a difference? How would teachers and administrators in our district answer the central question of this week’s Twitter conversation: What’s the point of having a media specialist if they aren’t specialists in the media forms of the day?
I’m reading a sobering new book called The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner. Wagner is co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has done a lot of research into the topic and his book is a powerful call to action.
Wagner describes the global achievement gap as “the gap between what even our best suburban, urban and rural public schools are teaching and testing versus what all students will need to succeed as learners, workers, and citizens in today’s global knowledge economy.” He goes on to say that “even in these ‘good’ schools, students are simply not learning the skills that matter most for the twenty-first century.”
What are these skills?
The First Survival Skill
Critical thinking and problem solving.
In researching the book, Wagner spoke to leaders in all types of businesses. He writes: “It turns out that asking good questions, critical thinking, and problem solving go hand in had in the minds of most employers and business consultants, and taken together they represent the First Survival Skill of the new global ‘knowledge economy.’ Equally important, they are skills that our kids need in order to participate effectively in our democracy.”
Librarians can play a huge part in teaching kids to ask good questions through well-developed research activities in the library.
Look for more survival skills in future posts.
Image citation: Survival kit by _ES.
The K-12 Online Conference is a conference by educators for educators around the world interested in integrating emerging technologies into classroom practice. A goal of the conference is to help educators make sense of and meet the needs of a continually changing learning landscape.
This free virtual annual professional development event spans the next three weeks. Presentations appear in the form of streamable or downloadable audio or video clips, with each workshop lasting about 20 minutes. Presentations are archived so that you may return to them later or visit sessions from previous conferences. Scheduled live chats allow participants to also connect real time.
Read more about it on Joyce Valenza’s blog then give it a try!
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the National Council for the Social Studies have created a framework for integrating 21st century skills into the Social Studies curriculum. Released on July 17, the map provides educators with concrete examples of how 21st century skills can be infused into classroom practices and highlights the critical connections between social studies and 21st century skills.
Download a copy here.
Greetings from NECC 2008! DS & I arrived in San Antonio last night for ISTE’s (International Society of Technology Education) National Educational Computer Conference 2008. This is the largest ed tech conference in the country with over 18,000 attendees. It is HUGE!
This morning we visited the exhibits, and are now in our first session. (We tried to go to the Coolcat Teacher’s session on wikis earlier today, but couldn’t get in. Maybe she has something online that we can take a look at later.)
The presenter is David Warlick and he is talking about three converging conditions that we need to pay attention to in order to work successfully with today’s students, who are 21st century citizens learning in 19th century classrooms. Some of the content is a repeat of the information that he shared at Region 10 back in May, but it is worth repeating.
These are the three conditions:
1. Unpredicatable future
-Authors like Daniel Pink and Richard Florida say that we are moving into an age of creativity, where workers will need to be able to solve problems in creative ways.
2. Networked students
-Students have invisible tentacles/personal learning networks that connect them to the people and information that they want.
-They think of information as a raw material that can be mixed with other content to make it better.
3. New information landscape
-Wikipedia is an example of this new information landscape where information content is created by the community. Sharing of and access to information is more important than protecting the authority of the source.
In the past, curriculum, content and teachers were at the top of the hill providing information to the learners below. Today’s students are already published content creators, and are ahead of their teachers. The classroom has become “flat.” We have to be willing to let them teach us and each other. It’s no longer necessary for teachers to be the all-knowing sage.
He closed by encouraging us not to be afraid to change the way we are doing things to meet our learners’ needs.
Click here for handouts from this session.
A recent post on the AASL blog has me thinking about pathfinders today. You know what pathfinders are, right? Those lists of resources that librarians make for every research project that is done in the library. The author of the post wonders if we aren’t sending students mixed messages when we talk about how they need to learn searching strategies and then be able to evaluate the information they find, but turn right around and hand them a list of “approved” resources to use. Why should they bother to learn anything about searching or evaluating information when they know that we’re going to tell them where to find the stuff they need? In a world of infoglut, I’m not sure that we are doing them any favors.
The author also mentions that she has started using a wiki site for her pathfinders and allowing teachers and students to help in their creation. Joyce Valenza has blogged about this idea also. While I love the collaborative aspect of all stakeholders contributing to a wiki pathfinder, I’m wondering now – are we leading our students down the wrong path? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Image citation: Chopwell-path to the river. Uploaded on March 24, 2008 by immarkcz. Attribution-Noncommercial-Share alike license.
Will Richardson’s Weblogg-ed pointed me to a very interesting and thought-provoking article today. Entitled Is Google Making Us Stoopid?, the author explores the increasing tendency to skim, scan and browse information rather than doing “deep reading” on a topic. In fact, he presents the idea that perhaps our brains are actually changing and becoming less able to handle this type of thinking.
I’m not so sure.
Where does the purpose for reading come into play? If skimming and scanning information on the web gets me the information that I need, then I’m going to skim and scan. If, however, I have a need to understand something in a deeper way, I’m going to make the effort to find some good quality resources and read them carefully in order to understand the topic and make an informed decision.
Before the days of the Internet, the encyclopedia was the enemy of teachers who wanted students to do deep reading and thinking in a research paper. Students would skim and scan an encyclopedia article and copy enough information to complete the assignment. Today they use the Internet to do the same thing. If, however, we change the assignment/research question so that it is requires original thought, skimming and scanning won’t do.
Maybe deep reading, thinking and writing will occur naturally when that’s what is required – in school and in life.
Take some time to read the article, then share your thoughts in the comments.
Image source: A Twisted Family Tradition – the Lime Jello Brain. Uploaded on February 6, 2005 by hurleygurley. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license