Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Web Stuff 09/01/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Common Core for Media Specialists: Considerations



I had a really great conversation with a colleague yesterday discussing what the role of the Media Specialist was in the wake of the Common Core rollout. She was concerned that she might be peripheral to the changes and she really wanted to know more about what was going on.

I assured her that she was not peripheral in the least.

“In fact,” I told her, “you are the cornerstone.” She was a little taken aback, but I explained.

I told her that every teacher was now a teacher of literacy, that there were reading and writing components explicit in everyone’s practice now, that there were instructional shifts toward informational text, deep reading and analysis, building domain specific vocabulary, and rigorous researching skills. I told her that she had never been more important than she was right at this moment.

I saw her look of fear when she said, “So what does this mean for me, then?”

I let her know that she could relax. What is coming for all teachers is on par with what she’s been doing for years:
  • helping others find appropriate resources both print and non-print
  • helping others evaluate resources for their usefulness
  • helping others use media in any form to support content knowledge
  • helping others explore the portals to the universe through the use of the media center


I shared with her Page 7 of the ELA Common Core Document, that describes seven capacities that the College and Career student should demonstrate. In her role as media specialist, these seven capacities, by and large, were already a part of her framework for teaching.

I showed her a resource I just recently came across on LiveBinders that included a slew of information about the Common Core Standards in relation to Media Specialists.

We also discussed some of the steps that she could begin considering as she helped teachers in their own transitions to Common Core Integration, including:
  • helping students identify those topics in literary texts that would also be found in informational texts
  • provide more opportunities for print texts that are informational: books, newspapers, magazines, reference materials
  • developing plans for helping students find relevant and useful information online as well as engage students in specific methods (web tools and digital device apps - like EasyBib or Son of Citation Machine) for creating citations
  • creating opportunities for students and teachers to engage with text in multiple ways: print, web, web 2.0 tools, interlibrary loans, etc.
  • creating a web resource for digital writing and reading in the content areas in several ways, perhaps on a school website, on LiveBinders, on a wiki, etc.


We discussed what reporting features she might have access to since her card catalog system was all online, for inventory and for checkout. While she wasn’t sure in the conversational moment, we wondered out loud about the possibility of providing reports for each student that showed the balance between the literary and the informational texts that the student had checked out in the last year.

We talked about how other teachers were going to be responsible for collecting evidence of student learning on a more frequent and formative basis, and this is something she could do to. If she knew that a student was always choosing literary/fictional texts, she could more easily make suggestions in the same interest area but around informational texts. She could also target reading levels and make suggestions for more rigorous reading if students were not self-selecting books that at least represented an independent (and possibly easing them into a challenging) zone.

The last thing we discussed was “Mapping Out Her Plan.” Those of you who know me or read me regularly know that while I engage in a lot of tech talk, it’s always rooted in a curricular focus. I told her to, in general, document her plans:
  • What actions would she take to upgrade her own practice in terms of the growth associated with Common Core integration?
  • What were those specific tasks she wanted to be sure and engage in with both students and teachers?
  • And finally, what evidence would she gather that represented the fulfillment of both the tasks and the actions?


As we wrapped up our conversation, her mood had decidedly changed from worried to excitement. She couldn’t get away from me fast enough and begin planning.

I’m sharing this conversation with you for two reasons. One, I haven’t seen a lot of press around what educational professionals outside of the core subjects should be considering with the Common Core implementation, and two, sometimes all it takes to ease the worries of coming changes is just a conversation and brainstorming session.

I think for most teachers, the capacity is there; the willingness is there. We just have to articulate ideas into manageable steps and then GO!


*Also--good luck to my media specialist colleague as she embarks on her new school year. After our conversation, I’m as excited as she is!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/29/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/28/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/26/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/24/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/20/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/19/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Common Core: Pay More!

I’m a little on a soapbox today, just so you know up front. Unfortunately, the people that are reading this are most likely the choir that I normally “preach” to.

The Common Core is upgrading more than standards. It’s creating opportunities for upgrades and transformations across the entire system. What these changes mean when they trickle down to individual teachers is significant. Teachers are being asked to do more than they ever have, and perhaps unlearn, relearn, and reboot. I don’t disagree that the system needs a kick in the pants, but teachers are getting increasingly frustrated--and I can’t blame them.

Teachers that I talk with across the country are frustrated because they are having to be more critical than they’ve ever been, provide better evidence of student learning, re-scaffold instruction, learn new ways to engage and reach every learner, and in many cases, also participate in the creation of new common assessments, look at data more critically and adjust instruction, and also be held to higher teacher standards and value added growth models. In essence, they are doing double the amount of work for the same amount of pay.

There are those that argue that the teachers should have been doing this all along. There are those that argue that teachers have pie jobs that don’t amount to more than glorified babysitting. There are those that are making decisions and judgments for and about these teachers that have never once stepped into a classroom. And then there are those that used to be in classrooms years ago who have no idea what instruction looks like and what it demands in the 21st Century.

Even today, colleges aren’t necessarily preparing their prospective teachers to practice at the level that is currently expected. All of the theoretical knowledge in the world will not adequately prepare the new teacher to understand curriculum alignment, collaborative cultures, effective classroom management, designing assessments that measure what was taught and align those to standards, the ever-increasing additional professional responsibilities, and more. Teachers today are more like doctors than ever before: detecting, diagnosing, remediating--thoughtful practitioners with prescriptive powers that have to be honed and sharpened for every single life they touch.

I don’t think most people have a firm grasp on how much teachers spend of their own time and money to create effective learning experiences for their students. Many, if not most teachers work on their own time, with little credit for doing so, and now the demands are there to do even more. Teachers are constantly held to the flame for continuous professional development, continuous critiques of their practice, and in recent years--a slump in scores could mean dismissal.

The successful implementation of the Common Core is a necessary thing. But it’s missing a key component: MONEY FOR TEACHERS. I’m not talking about incentive pay, I’m not talking about collective bargaining, and I’m not talking about a money grab, I’m talking about fair pay for a job that’s been transformed significantly from what it used to be. (Particularly now in the wake of what the Common Core is asking teachers to do.)

When I was in college, I worked at Wal-Mart 3rd shift so that I could go to school during the day. I started out making a little more than minimum wage and was hired to replace stock in the sporting goods department. After a couple of weeks, I was trained in a couple of other departments and how to run the cash register. As I did more, I was paid more. In every other job I’ve ever had in my life--this has been true. If I take on more responsibility, then I was rewarded with a higher rate of pay. Because I worked for it. Because I deserved it.

I don’t think we can just write this off as “this is what should have been happening all along.” I could say the same about my doctor, my accountant, and my mechanic. (They all do their jobs increasingly better, and I know as years go by, I’m paying more and more for their services.) New ideas, discoveries, opportunities, and inventions breed better work, better implementation, more strategic ways to qualify and quantify and make a difference for what teachers do. And it takes work to learn all of this new stuff. And it takes work to maintain the new system while preparing for the next change. And the teachers have to keep on teaching in the midst of all of this.

Teachers today weren’t necessarily prepared/trained to do the kind of work that needs to happen with these shifts in our educational system. As we increase these shifts, and increase responsibilities, and increase expectations...shouldn’t there also be increases in pay?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Web Stuff 08/14/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.