Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Value of Becoming Information Creators

For all we have learned about Bloom and Marzano, we are reluctant to employ higher level thinking skills in lesson design.

Call it assimilation or application of knowledge, or content creation, students show true understanding of content when allowed to create a product of their own design as a formative assessment.  Yet it is a rare thing for teachers on a regular basis to let students design their own assessments.

There are many reasons for this - time being a main issue.  To groom students to be able to work independently or in groups to produce content requires great patience and persistance.  Many might feel they cannot spend precious time of activities that are unorganized.  But organization takes time and practice.  I assert by a third attempt using a consistent approach, students would be well on their way to managing themselves appropriately.

I think another key reason teachers might refrain from this method of assessment is personal lack of understanding of all content creation might entail.  Technology advances quickly, and while most teachers are trained in integration, few practicing teachers have experimented in tools to create unique content for their students. Teachers expect to be the experts and know the how-tos of tasks required of their students.  Teacher professional development is falling behind.

Ironically, in the early days of web integration (ca. 1996-2000), web design for teachers was an important piece of professional development.  But technology moved faster and before teachers were comfortable in designing their own platforms, content providers with premade platforms came along, and the teacher training changed from creation to integration.  Now we must change back.

I firmly believe that teacher-made materials are better for students understanding, because the teacher is the expert in her content area and knows how to deliver that content to her students.  Just as I dislike the end of the textbook test, I feel most commercially produced content only grazes the surface of content a teacher hopes to cover.  By creating their own teaching products and assessments, students are bound to know more.

I am thinking about this because I am in a unique situation: I teach Office 365 classes for teacher professional development and also for corporate staff development.  The demands expected of the corporate clients are much higher than for school personnel.  The reason?  School personnel rely on reusing the works of others within the bounds of fair use (a terribly misunderstood concept), while the corporate world takes no chances and requires original work.  Would it not ultimately be to teachers' benefit to insist that they only use orginal content in their Sways and Mixes?  

In a world that is awash in multimedia, we should ensure that teachers have the skills to best model their expertise.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Love Being a Librarian

 I believe that to be effective, people must love their work. I love being a librarian.  While most see this as an old-fashioned, stereotyped profession, I disagree.  I see librarianship as the most adaptable profession imaginable.

In December I retired from the school library position I had held for 21 years.  I truly loved the job, the people and especially the children. Over the course of the 21 years, my school transformed from baseband Internet to a T3 line with wifi connections.  Our PCs moved from dumb clients to 1:1 Chromebooks for each child in grades three through five, with other grades being added in coming years.  The philosophy of the library moved through two versions of Information Power to Standards for the 21st Century Learner. Collaboration, tech integration and information literacy skills became the focus of the library program.  So many federal mandates came and went.  There were truly more changes than I can remember.

It was only for health reasons that I retired. Now I serve as a part-time program outreach librarian at a public library.  My collaborations take me out into the community to spread library resources to everyone possible.  It is exciting to make new contacts and to help people.

There are so many things going on in all kinds of libraries today.  One can never be bored. I have so many projects on the burner now that I could work 72 hours a week and not be close to running out of things to do.  It is all about offering more to the public and making sure that all members of the community have the opportunity to benefit from library services.  I love my job!

When I worked in the schools, there were those who felt calling me a librarian was an insult.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Librarians throughout history have dealt and embraced every change that has come at them.  I think change is exciting.  Bring it on!