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Musings on the new AASL learning standards

In October AASL published the updated information literacy standards “Standards for the 21st –Century Learner”. Now the parsingbegins… what is right about thestandards? What is wrong? What do they mean? How can I use the standards to improve my instruction, andstudent’s learning? There is more tocome, more work being done by AASL but in the meantime what is that we,teacher- librarians, notice about the new learning standards.

It took me time to move past the nine common beliefs. I applaud the articulation of the beliefs that are the underpinning ofthe four learning standards. Itidentifies our biases and ideals up front for the world to know, and hopefullyunderstand. Without that identificationwe are facing more standards that speak only to our community. Instead we have a document that outlines tothose outside our profession can read, and recognize why we think our brand ofinformation literacy is important. Isuppose a cynic could suggest that it is propaganda designed to prove that weare teachers, but I’d advocate that all teaching and learning standards shouldlead with a statement that describes the mission of the organization, subjectarea, or committee responsible for designing teaching and learning standards. AASL has done that. Now it is our responsibility to move thesecommon beliefs beyond our professional community.

When I moved into analyzing each learning standard I first appreciated the four pieces of each larger standard – skills, dispositions in action, responsibilities, andself-assessment strategies. However Iquickly became overwhelmed, and as I moved through each piece frustrated byredundancies. A complaint I have heardfrom other first timers reading the “Standards for the 21st –CenturyLearner” document. So I stepped back,and asked the question we should all be asking: “How can I use these standardsto inform my instructional design to provide an optimal learning experience formy students?”

One of my biggest concerns as I work with students is what I call the “run and gun” research assignment – a two day extravaganza that leaves no time for musing,in-depth searching, the ability to refine questions and focuses, andmetacognition to identify and evaluate the learning processes. In questioning the redundancies of the newlearning standards I began to contemplate how to make the process moretransparent, to teach students that research, true inquiry, is aboutrefocusing, refining, and that it is a circular process. Similar skills, dispositions,responsibilities, and self-assessment are needed throughout their process. Rather than approaching teaching the processin a linear fashion, how can I break this down? What connections can be made throughout all four learningstandards that move beyond the step by step process?

And then there was a flash – there are themes that occur throughout the learning standards. For me, I could sum them upas Context, Creativity, and Community. Throughout the “Standards for the 21st –Century Learner”document there are echoes of placing information in context to create newknowledge, to use personal information schema, and cultural and social contextto illuminate and define new knowledge. There is an emphasis on using and producing a wide variety of formatsand diverse sources. This highlightsthe theme of creativity (a word and piece more specifically identified in theISTE NETS). If we are guiding studentsto use a diversity of sources in a variety of formats then we are asking themto call upon creative thinking and problem solving; take that a step forwardand ask them to produce a diversity of thought in a variety of formats and weare accessing the creative nature of our students. And finally there is community, an emphasis on collaboration andsharing within a global community. Usethe tools available to go beyond the classroom walls, and to do so in aresponsible and ethical manner.

So what will this mean to my instruction? How can I use this to improve my students learning experiences? This will be the next trick. Can I rearrange the standards into themesthat make sense to me and allow me design meaningful instruction thatemphasizes inquiry, and the patterns of learning? Now that I’ve mused, it is time to sit down with the “Standardsfor the 21st –Century Learner”, NETS, Habits of Mind, Partnershipfor 21st Century’s framework and design new instruction thatimproves student learning experience.

A beginning draft visual of these thoughts.

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Supplementing the new AASL Standards

The April 2008 issue of Teacher Librarian will focus on the new AASL Learning Standards with the deadline being Jan 5 for any of you that would like to write a piece. However, I am thinking of writing a collaborative book with any who would like to participate. It would be something like a graphic organizer. Each page would take a central concept from the standards such as: Inquiry. This would be centered in the middle of the page. Then around that central idea would be border sections dealing with: Definition of the concept; what the research says; what the best practices literature says; and Implications for school librarians.Let me know if you'd like to work on a page or two.
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Thanksgiving break.

I'm so pleased to have a week off from a 42-mile 1-way commute and am particularly thankful for the opportunity to rehearse as a pit-orchestra member--trombone--for a production of Dickens' celebrated Christmas Carol at the Temecula Old Town Community Theater coming up early next month.
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Since I spend quite a bit of time building and maintaining educational websites, I am always looking for software and tools to improve the experience for the end user. I just came across this research that I find quite interesting when contemplating building a new website. From Blog Scientific Web Design: 23 Actionable Lessons from Eye-Tracking Studies By Christina Laun Richard Beaudry CASL President Teacher-Librarian Langley Secondary School
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Copyright friendly image list

"My" teachers have been complaining about not having access to high-quality images without scrounging around for hours on the web. So I put together this wiki of copyright-friendly image sources. Also a long list of historical political cartoons, which the history teachers appreciate. Feel free to use it! Or add anything! password is opensesame4
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Evaluation Wizard: Beta Testers Needed!

Evaluation Wizard Menu

Help us polish the latest edition of our Evaluation Wizard!

Evaluation Wizard

Carl Heine is rewriting our Evaluation Wizard; a ten step process for website evaluation. This tool will step you through the evaluation process, offering criteria for 10 different elements of evaluation.

As a student evaluates the site, they are guided to write their evidence for each step of the process. Once three criteria areas have been used, you can choose to print your evaluation. They system gathers all of your writing into a single page that can be copy/pasted to a word document or printed directly from the screen.

No log in required (the system does not store your data)

Please offer us feedback. Are we missing something? Are the criteria clear? Will you use this with your students?

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power searching in a web 2.0 world

Classes Forming: Register Now!This popular four-week on-line course empowers participants to search efficiently, evaluate Internet and Web 2.0 information effectively and use it ethically incorporating the full range of 21st Century Information Fluency skills and resources.This course, developed by the 21st Century Information Fluency Project is open to all adults who desire to become fluent in searching and evaluating on-line resources. Anyone who intends to teach 21st Century Information Skills to students and staff should complete this training.Details:
  • Instructor: Dennis O'Connor
  • Time commitment: login at least four times a week
  • 2.5 CEUs are available for the 25 online contact hours
  • Course delivery: 21CIF Moodle (view the course -- log-in as a guest)
  • Assignments include readings, interactive learning games, discussion groups and practical projects you can use in your work
  • ISTE NETS (for teachers) addressed: I, II, III, IV, V, VI
  • ISTE NETS (for students) addressed: 2, 3, 5
  • ISTE NETS (Refreshed for students 2007) 1,3,4,5
  • $99.00 course fee
Online Registration is Now Open! If you would like to be added to our interest list, send us an email with your name and preferred email address. If you'd like to register, click here!Objectives:
  • Participants will increase skills and efficiency in searching world wide web
  • Participants will become reliable evaluators of digital information
  • Participants will become successful integrators of digital information
Next Registration Deadline: Nov 12. Please alert us to any special accommodations you may need.Cancellation Policy: Any registration cancellation must be received 48 hours before the scheduled date for a refund to be issued. Because attendance is limited, persons registering and not in attendance will be charged the full registration fee. 21CIF reserves the right to cancel any session due to insufficient enrollment. Participants will be notified by email or phone if a cancellation occurs.
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